Dating scams on plenty of fish
You're looking for love but end up in fear of arrest. Even worse, you believe you've been tricked into breaking the law. It's a troubling twist on an internet dating scam, but many are so embarrassed and scared that they don't report it to police. A man named "Rusty" is stepping forward to warn others and hopefully take away the power these scammers have. It all started when Rusty was encouraged by friends to join the dating website "Plenty of Fish.
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And immediately I responded, 17? Rusty then received a call from Tampa police. He googled the number, and it showed it was police. He also got a call from a man pretending to be the girl's father. The dad sounded legit, until he implied money would make the nightmare go away.
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In hidsight, I recognize the mistakes I made and take full responsibility of them. I just want to recount the situation as it happened so others may be prepared should this happen to them. I've heard of scams while using the dating site Plenty of Fish, and am typically cautious when giving my phone number out, but this happened to me after letting my guard down once:.
So, a little backstory, I am a soldier in the US Army and spend a little time on a couple of dating sites just to hopefully easily meet people since I haven't a lot of time afforded to me. We get a lot of cyber security stuff shoved down our throat on a regular basis, but mistakes do happen. I had recently created a profile on the dating site in question and pretty much let it sit there most of the time, patrolling through it in my off time when I get the chance.
One night, after a few drinks with my buddies, I get a message from a girl I had been chatting with. We chatted back and forth a bit until she asked for my number. Usually when and if this happens, I counter by asking for their number instead, so I can check it to see if there is anything fishy associated with it, but I was a bit tipsy and made a poor decision by complying.
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The night went on with no further messages, so I took it as either they lost interest, or were trying to play the waiting game or something. I quickly forgot about as my night went on. Come the next morning. I get a call from a man claiming to be a police officer. He says his name and rambles off a badge number, and I groggily decided not to write it down.
Flabbergasted, I exclaimed that I had been doing nothing of the sort anytime recently, and certainly not to a minor. I have of course sent pictures like that before to people of age, but that was quite some time ago, and never with anyone I had not met face-to-face. I explained that I didn't even know this girl's name.
He went on to say that they have evidence linking these pictures to my cell phone and that we had been talking through the dating app and then later by phone. By this point, the fact that I had given my number out through the site had slipped my mind, but I knew that I had not spoken with anyone by phone from that site. I knew for a fact that I had not done anything the officer was saying. The situation got more out of control when the officer asked if I would like to speak to the father to attempt to resolve the situation.
Still, I was in shock and severely confused, since I had not been on the receiving end of this kind of thing before. So I agreed to speak with him. This story, though I knew for a fact I had nothing to do with this, was very heart wrenching to me due to prior experiences, so it added to the shock value. I respectfully explained to the man that, though I understand the pain he is going through, that I was not the guy he was looking for. At this point, since they were telling me that this was all being tied back to my number and profile, I was under the impression that either it was a very elaborate scam or that someone had either hacked my phone or spoofed themselves using my number.
Either way, I was adamant in telling the guy that even though I sympathize with him, I am not the one he is looking for.
Online dating scammers threaten to ruin reputations, lives
Moore if I agreed to do so. Stupid reason, in hindsight, but again, I have zero experience in this stuff. I was increasingly becoming nervous and afraid, as my job in the military requires a government clearance, and I was afraid that even though I would be deemed innocent, it would be affected and I could lose said clearance and my job by extension. I was put back on the phone with the deputy who told me that Mr. Moore had disclosed that he was willing to settle this with me.
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The officer told me that I needed to decide quickly, as Mr. I told him that I would do what I can mainly just to get off the phone and compose myself and hung up. I immediately called my military supervisor and explained the situation. Luckily, my squad leader was level headed and explained that it was likely a scam and that I should just wait it out.
If it is indeed true, an officer would be dispatched to pick me up and we could take steps from there. He told me not to call them back to confirm or deny my compliance, and that should they do so, immediately demand a name, badge number, and the hospital the girl is in; then immediately hang up and contact the PD directly to confirm. A few hours past keep in mind that Mr. Moore claimed that his wife would be there within an hour of the original call and that charges would likely be pressed against me , and the number called back again.
He told me that Mr. Moore was still here and was inquiring if I would comply.
I did as my SQL said and immediately asked for a badge number recited slowly. The man hung up. Immediately, I called the PD and told them what happened. They informed me that obviously, in hindsight that they do not handle situations like this as the alleged had attempted, and that an officer would have immediately been dispatched instead of calling. I feel stupid that I was blinded so easily, but the shock and awe was frighteningly effective. In hindsight, this was obviously a scam, but my naivety along with the shock and awe factor made it very convincing.
I had heard of the blackmail strategies, the Nigerian Prince strategies, the sextortion strategies, hell even the fake police officer strategies. And I was thoroughly convinced that I was knowledgeable enough not to be swayed by them. But the combination of a fake police officer and sextortion weaved in a way I had not heard of was astounding to me. This combed with the fact that I have minimal knowledge of how legal matters such as this severely frightened me. I am just happy I was able to get outside advice before I was taken advantage of.
A police officer will almost always come directly to you, or tell you to immediately come down to the PD at the very least. Police officers will never allow situations as grave as this to be settled financially between the parties involved.
If an officer does call you, it will likely be through the actual PD phone, not a cell phone or an unassociated landline, as a search of the number that called me indicated. Keep in mind that spoofing can make a call seem to come from anywhere. If anyone requests money by phone, regardless of situation, be alert and do not comply.
If they really need money, and believe that you are responsible for providing it, they can take it up with legal authorities. No scams are by the book. I would advise that anyone seek outside help from a trusted source before making concrete decisions. No matter the circumstance, keep calm and be partial. Threats do not have to be hostile to be effective. Aggressiveness is not required to extort or induce fear in a person.
Know your options, and look at them thoroughly. Mostly anything that can be handled by phone can be handled in person. Ask a multitude of questions. Poking one hole in a potential scam can likely make the entire thing fall through. The most elaborate scams sometimes have the weakest foundations. Take notes on what is being said.
Names, allegations, numbers, and take notes on your own actions as well. Pour over your past decisions that could have led to the situation, true or not. I recognize my mistakes, and upon looking back objectively with a calm mind, I can easily see how this was indeed a scam.