Friday, March 24, 2017

RPD Warns of New Social Media Extortion Scam

Richmond Police detectives are investigating a new social media extortion scam

Scammers are using the Facebook and WhatsApp mobile applications to threaten and defraud individuals to send a specified amount of money. The text messages and phone calls have, so far, been written and spoken in Spanish but all should be aware of this scam.

These individuals use Facebook to find photos of the target and their family and WhatsApp to initiate voice or text messaging over the phone.

How the scam works:

  • A text message is received from an unknown number stating the victim owes money.
  • The scammer will call or send a second message to the victim demanding about $200-$250.
  • The scammer will threaten to cause harm to the victim’s family in an attempt to collect the demanded amount. If the victim ignores the threats, the scammer will then send photos of the victim’s family and friends that have been found on Facebook.
  • If the victim continues to ignore the threats, the scammer will proceed to send violent and graphic videos. The scammer will also claim they are in close proximity and will harm the victim if the money is not paid.
  • The scammer will provide instructions informing the victim where to go and how to send the requested amount of money. They will be persistent and demand that the victim does not contact the police.
  • Additional messages may be received from other unknown individuals in an attempt to convince the victim more than one participant is involved. If the victim blocks the phone numbers, additional messages from other phone numbers may be received.
It is important to understand these types of extortion scams are typically of an international scope and put people in great fear. The best way to prevent this happening to you or your loved ones is revisiting the security settings on your social media pages. Make sure your settings are set to private so the public does not have access to your personal content.

Anyone receiving extortion scams are urged to call and file a report with the Richmond Police Department at (804) 646-5100 or contact Crime Stoppers at 780-1000 or at