Snapchat Nude Photo Scam: Scammers Are Blackmailing Teen Boys; Here's How To Be Safe

Snapchat Nude Photo Scam: Scammers Are Blackmailing Teen Boys; Here's How To Be Safe
Photo iIllustration of the Snapchat social media logo | Getty Images | Photo by Chesnot

A new blackmailing scam is circulating on Snapchat targeting teen boys. The scammers trick young boys into sending nude photos or videos that are used to blackmail them for money. The fraudsters threaten the victims that they would release their photos/videos to their families, friends, and circulate them on the internet. The scammers are primarily using Snapchat as its disappearing messages leave no trail. The number of cases are on the rise and authorities have urged parents to keep their children safe.



 

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Criminals pose as teen girls who befriend young boys online. The scam may also start at a different social media platform like Instagram where the scammers would ask for the victim’s Snapchat ID to connect further.

The scammers then share nude photos of random girls taken from the internet. They then ask the boys for nude photos in exchange. Once the victim reciprocates, the criminals immediately start threatening them about sharing their photos with family and social media followers. They demand money to be sent through peer-to-peer payment apps to prevent detection.

The scheme targets boys as they are easy to lure and they respond to sexual photos more readily than girls, according to Lauren Coffren, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) executive director, in a WSJ report.

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Over a dozen teen boys have killed themselves in the US to date after being targeted by such a scam. The NCMEC received under 10 reports of online sex extortion three years ago, but the number has grown to 12,500 this year alone, as per the WSJ report.

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In a survey conducted by Snapchat’s parent company, about 65% of 6,000 teens and young adults in the survey said they or their friends have been targeted in schemes where scammers obtained explicit images or other private information of the user and then threatened to release them if the victims fail to pay.



 

As per the report, the scammers of such schemes are often based in West Africa, outside of US legal jurisdiction, as per the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. In August, two Nigerian men were extradited to the US in a case related to extortion and a Michigan teen’s suicide.

Parents should make teens aware of these scams and caution them about staying safe online. Kids should be advised to not engage with anyone who asks for a nude photo or threatens to create fake nudes. Teens should be advised to keep their accounts private and only accept friend requests from people they know. Further, Snapchat and Instagram have default settings that protect kids from strangers to find and message accounts of children under 18.

Parents are also advised to keep a close look at their children’s activity and interactions on Snapchat, Instagram, and Discord. Payment apps should also be supervised to make sure the children are not paying money to fraudsters.

In case a victim has already shared his photo, parents should make sure that the extortionists are not paid or provided with account passwords. The scammers may keep asking for more money or share the photos anyway. Parents should immediately report the incident to the authorities and the social media platforms. Snapchat has created a new reporting category to expedite these cases. It can be found under the platform’s reporting menu for “nudity or sexual content.”

Most states have Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, thus it would be a good move to report the incident to them as well. It should also be reported to NCMEC via the center’s Take It Down program. The NCMEC working along with the social platforms may help to take the images down.



 

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