A Grindr scam that has been reported in other parts of the country has recently been reported by Grindr users in the New Orleans area. This latest scam follows some variation of the following:
You are chatting with someone who claims to be a young man 18-21 years old. After chatting on Grindr for a few minutes, he will give you his phone number and ask if you can continue the chat via text. He may say that Grindr burns up his battery, the Grindr app doesn’t work well on his phone, or some other excuse. Once you start chatting via text, he will ask you to send nude pictures. After a few more texts and picture exchanges, he will tell you that he will be in touch later to set a time to meet.
In reality, this “young man” is a scammer who now has your phone number. With a few clicks on google, the scammer easily learns your full name, address, birthdate, where you work, and relatives’ names. If you’ve never tried it, google your phone number and see what comes up. You may have to pay a few dollars for full details, but the scammer doesn’t mind this.
A few days or maybe a week later, you will receive a call stating that the person you were chatting with was actually a minor posing as an adult, and his parents or teacher discovered the texts on his phone, including the nude pictures that you sent. The caller may state that he or she is an “investigator” or one of the minor’s parents. They will tell you of their plans to go to the authorities and press charges for sending pornography to a minor.
After you are sufficiently worried, they will tell you that they are willing to forget the whole thing if you pay some amount of money. In one version of the scam, they state that they are going to take the minor’s phone away and ask you to pay the termination fee in exchange for not going to the authorities. When you agree, they will instruct you to buy a prepaid money card at Wal-Mart, CVS, etc. and text them a picture of the card and PIN number. This is all they need to obtain the cash value of the card, and it is completely untraceable.
When you refuse, the scammer will threaten to go to the authorities and/or to post your nude pictures online. They may text you screen shots of the photos you sent as proof that they have them. In one case reported in Dallas, a woman even showed up outside the victim’s workplace claiming to be the minor’s mother and demanding payment.
If you google the scammer’s phone number, you will find that it is not registered to any name, because the scammer is using a “ghost” phone number.
There are many scams on all dating apps, and you should always be alert. Protect yourself from scams by observing the following:
NEVER give your phone number or last name to anyone on a dating app. This is all they need to find out your personal details. Keep the conversation on the app and give only your first name. If someone you are chatting with insists on texting directly, end the conversation and block him—it’s probably a scam.
NEVER give money to anyone as a result of a conversation on any dating app.
If a scammer does obtain your personal information and contacts you directly, consult an attorney and have the attorney talk to the scammer.
Consider getting a “ghost” phone number of your own. There are several free apps for both Android and iOS that put a second phone number on your cell phone. This is a VOIP number that is not registered to your name and not traceable to you. You can use this number if you want to exchange phone numbers with someone you don’t know well (for example, someone you meet in a bar), and it prevents them from obtaining your personal information online.
Follow your instinct—if something seems not quite right, it probably isn’t.