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LGBTQ+ Community Warned of Extortionists Abusing Dating Apps

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning the LGTBQ+ community of targeted scams on dating apps. Threat actors are using multiple scams to target the LGTBQ+ community that include tricking individuals on dating apps to send explicit photos and then using the photos as blackmail. The scammers will start a relationship on the app and earn individuals’ trust by sending explicit photos and asking the victims to reciprocate. The criminals will then threaten to leak photos publicly and share them with friends, family, and employers if a ransom is not paid. The threat actors usually ask for payment in the form of untraceable gift cards. Scammers have also targeted members of the LGBTQ+ community that use the app but are not publicly ‘out’ as LGBTQ+ and threaten to out them for a ransom. These tactics are not new. In September 2021, the FBI reported that online romance scams caused Americans over $113 million in losses since the beginning of 2021.

Analyst Notes

Analyst Notes:

The FTC recommends users do the following to protect themselves from romance scams:


  • Do not share personal information with someone you just met on a dating app. That includes your cell phone number, email address, and social media profile.
  • Check out who you are talking to. Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture to see if it is associated with another name or with details that don’t match up – these are signs of a scam.
  • Don’t pay scammers to destroy photos or conversations. There is no guarantee they’ll do it.


The FBI recommends never sending explicit photos even to trusted individuals. If you do fall victim to a romance scam, the FBI recommends stopping all interaction with the extortionist and do not be embarrassed or afraid to contact law enforcement. Individuals are encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI IC3 at