DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Police Department is investigating three cases of extortion for online sex, or “sextortion,” all reported within the last week.
“This type of scam isn’t new, however to see three cases within a week’s time is definitely a spike,” said DPD Spokesperson Doug Schepman.
Schepman says criminals are using the wide reach of social media and websites to extort money out of their victims.
“In all three cases, we have male victims who are contacted by a female suspect, or someone posing to be a female,” Schepman told CBS4’s Andrea Flores.
DPD says within 24 hours, the suspects urge the victims to engage in a virtual encounter.
“The suspects then record the victim during that video chat, and reach out to the victim and say, “’We have this video tape and we’ll send it to your online contacts if you don’t send us money,’” Schepman said.
Investigators say the threats start at a few hundred dollars, but can go up to thousands. DPD says while only one of the victims sent money, another victim who didn’t paid the price.
“The suspect actually did send that video, that potentially embarrassing video, to a contact of that [victim],” said Schepman.
Police say there’s only one way to protect yourself against sextortion.
“You don’t know if they’re really who they’re claiming to be in the first place,” Schepman said. “Even if you send them money, what is your guarantee that they aren’t going to share that video anyways?” Schepman said.
DPD believes the suspects may be running the scam outside of the United States.