Waco PD reports increase in social media scams, nude photo blackmail

Student looking at the screen in disappointment after realizing he’s been scammed. Assoah Ndomo | photographer.

By Luke Lattanzi | Staff Writer

Detectives with the Waco Police Department are warning of an increase in social media scams, most notably scams that involve the sending of nude photos, which can then be used for blackmail.

According to Waco PD, these scams primarily target men. The scammer will often pose as a woman and attempt to convince the victim to send nude photos. Once the photos have been received, the scammers will use them as blackmail, often demanding a large sum of money or even threatening the victim’s life.

“If you are being asked for money or personal information in any way, immediately report it,” Waco PD spokesperson Cierra Shipley said via email. “If they are posing as a certain agency, organization or even someone you know, before you send money contact that specific agency, organization or person directly and ask if this is a scam.”

Shipley also said that due to the nature of these crimes, they are often hard to prosecute due to many of these scammers conducting these activities from overseas.

Carl Flynn, director of communications and marketing for Information Technology Services, also urged students to be aware of the content they create online.

“Be in the know. Any content you create online — whether it is a text message, photo or video — can be made public,” Flynn said via email. “And nothing actually ‘disappears’ online. Once you send something, you do not have any control over where it goes next.”

Flynn also said people should refrain from sharing their personal information online with someone they don’t know and emphasized the importance of reporting suspicious activity within the social media app they are using.

“Most social media platforms have links to report suspicious activity, use them,” Flynn said.

Flynn also said victims of these scams should not be afraid to ask for help from someone they trust.

“Be willing to ask for help,” Flynn said. “If you are getting messages or requests online that don’t seem right, block the sender, report the behavior to the site administrator, or go to an adult. If you have been victimized online, tell someone.”

Luke Lattanzi is a senior political science major with a minor in news-editorial originally from Monroe Township, New Jersey, now based in Houston. In his last semester at the Lariat, he is excited to learn more about what it takes to report for a daily news publication. Luke also serves as assistant editor for conservative digital magazine American Pigeon. He hopes to work for a publication as a reporter after graduation.