Being Blackmailed for Money on Facebook? Here's What to Do

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Peter T. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I have a friend who recently met someone on Facebook. What started out as simple flirting soon became a romantic relationship online, though they have never met in person. For sake of argument I'll refer to my friend as Bob and his romantic interest as Tina. In a moment of weakness, Bob sent a few pictures and a video of himself in a compromising way, and Tina is now blackmailing on Facebook. She is demanding a lump sum payment (in gift cards), or says she will send the compromising video to all of Bob's friends and family on Facebook. Being that you have one heck of a reputation of knowing all answers, you are the first person I thought of that may be able to help with this scam. Any thoughts? Bob's deadline to send the money is in the next few days, or the video goes live. Thanks for any help you can provide. "

My response:

This is a scam, also known as "revenge porn", or "Facebook blackmail scam", "Google hangouts blackmail scam" or "online romance scam".

Here's how it works:

Either the victim receives a random SMS text on the cellular phone (usually from a local phone number, where the perpetrator is pretending to be someone that innocently texted the wrong number), or the victim will receive a seemingly random friend request on Facebook, Instragram, Google Hangouts, and similar social media services. In the latter case, the online Facebook profile is made to look attractive to bait as many people as possible.

If text messages are reciprocated and/or the friend request is accepted, scammers continue to bait the victim over the next few days or even weeks. They will begin by saying that they are "lonely" and "looking for a good man", etc. As the online relationship continues, scammers will convince the victim to show their face and eventually body parts below the waist. Once that's done, scammers will make threats to blackmail you online Facebook and similar social media services, exposing more than just your identity to the world to see.

Update 20210224: I'm getting a lot of emails from folks that have been blackmailed on Facebook, Google Hangouts, Instragram, etc. If you need help with this, contact me now using our online form and I will make them go away. IMPORTANT: please note that my service is paid support due to the large volume of requests I receive and time required to mitigate each individual case (typically 1-3 days). Please don't forget to leave your phone number on the contact page. I've been dealing with various online scams now for over 7 years and know exactly what to do. You can review my credentials here and read more about my services here.

Being Blackmailed on Facebook? Here's What to Do

Most of the time, scammers will ask for gift cards as way of payment for professing your love - usually in small amounts at first.

As strange as it may seem, gift cards act as a global online currency (instead of cash or credit) because one you give out the PIN number, the cash amount can be immediately redeemed online using various web services. Sending gift cards this way is akin to using Western Union - once you send the money, it's gone and there's no way to get it back.

Once you pay the scammers, however, they will continue to ask for more money.

Here's the kicker -

If you don't agree to pay up, scammers will threaten to post photos or videos of you in the buff online, in your neighborhood, to your wife, girlfriend, family members, on YouTube, and even post said pictures all around your city. The best advice here is don't pay them at all. Instead, use this form to report any blackmail threats to Facebook.

Unfortunately, this form alone won't make the scammers go away - especially if they have pictures or videos to expose you.

Update 20210224: I'm getting a lot of emails from folks that have been blackmailed on Facebook, Google Hangouts, Instragram, etc. If you need help with this, contact me now using our online form and I will make them go away. IMPORTANT: please note that my service is paid support due to the large volume of requests I receive and time required to mitigate each individual case (typically 1-3 days). Please don't forget to leave your phone number on the contact page. I've been dealing with various online scams now for over 7 years and know exactly what to do. You can review my credentials here and read more about my services here.

Optional: Close your Facebook Account (with Caveats)

Yet another option is to close the Facebook account until things blow over.

Keep in mind that if the account is closed, it won't be possible to file a blackmail report. As such it is best to report the case immediately.

IMPORTANT: If the case is complex and you've been involved with multiple (5 or more) "romantic relationships" online that exposed your identity, you may want to reach out to me for help directly as this can be quite time consuming to fix. It will also be incredibly difficult to do if you close your Facebook account prior to reaching out to me, though it can be done. When in doubt, contact me directly.

Additional Information

Here are some related articles from Facebook - updated February 24, 2021:

I hope that helps.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Not Sure What to Do? Need Help?

Since I've posted this article originally last year (now updated February 2021), I've received a lot of emails from folks asking for help.

If you are being blackmailed online through Google Hangouts, SMS Texts, or Facebook, contact me now using our online form and don't forget to leave your phone number. I will call you back as soon as possible. Note that I receive a lot of requests for help; as such I will need to be paid for my time as it will take anywhere from 1-3 days to mitigate your case.

I have a very high success rate in making the scammers go away as I have been dealing with this scam and similar scams like it for over 7 years. Because of the nature of the topic, I promise to be professional and discrete. If a phone call isn't possible, I can help by email but this method of communication may take longer to process.

Put Your Trust in Me through Years of Experience

A bit of background on me: I am a senior systems administrator, IT technical analyst, and computer programmer. I have nearly 40 years of computing experience, 20 years in IT, and hold a degree in Computer Science from the University of Windsor, Ontario. I have owned and operated this website for over 20 years, published over 2,000 articles online, published 6 books, and I have helped thousands of people through email, by phone, and by remote desktop support.

Aside from publishing tech-related articles and providing tech support by phone and over the Internet to businesses and end users around the world, I have been dealing with online scams (mostly romance scams and tech support scams) now for 7 years and know them inside and out. I also have an excellent online reputation - feel free to search for my name using Google if you like.

You can also review my resume here. I am kind, compassionate, and willing to help - just ask! I also provide unparalleled service to my clients (see reviews here).

--

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

Rate this article: 
Average: 4.5 (13 votes)