Am I legally libel if a minor pretends to be an adult on 2 online dating sites?
3 attorney answers
You are "liable" the these blackmailers only in your own mind, if you are dumb enough to believe them. Odds are, the person on the keyboard who is communicating with you is actually not even a minor but instead an adult, in Nigeria, Eastern Europe, or many other scammer hotspots, some of which do not have extradition treaties with the U.S., and using photos obtained from others Adding to Atty. Ilmanen's great answer, you should do a favor to both yourself and to the rest of society by reporting this. Spare the details unless someone gets back to you, but do tell that you are being blackmailed and that it is still ongoing, since the police may want to arrange a sting operation. My guess, however, is that this is probably originating outside the U.S., so that might be complex, but at least this info will be added to their database so that they can warn others or take further action if warranted. If you are uncomfortable going to your local police, you can report them online at the FBI's scam report website, which is at https://www.ic3.gov/. Due to high volumes of these, don't expect much in the way of response, but do follow up if they get back to you. Odds are, the person on the keyboard who is actually not even a minor but instead an adult in Nigeria, Eastern Europe, or many other scammer hotspots, some of which do not have extradition treaties with the U.S. Another benefit of reporting is that if this gang or the pictures are ever investigated further and your phone number located, the report will prove that you are victim rather than a pedophile.
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You are a victim of the infamous "Underage Girl Scam".
Does this sound familiar?
1. You are on some kind of adult dating or chat site -- either heterosexual or gay-- where a person says they are over 18, and either sends you (or lures you into sending them) sexy pictures.
2. Then they say that they are actually 16, or 14, or some other age under 18.
3. Next, the "father", the "mother" or a "detective" calls or texts you and demands money to keep them from filing charges. Often, the money is supposed to replace a "smashed phone", "computer", or something else . . . even a car that the "minor wrecked while going to meet up with you". Sometimes they "send the minor to a juvenile military boot camp".
4 The tip-off is that they want payment by Western Union, MoneyGram, iStore credit, Paypal.Me, Snapcash, Zelle, CashApp, money order, or gift cards BUT NOT by cash or checks.
5. Don't buy gift cards and give them the numbers. Don't Zelle or CashApp money. There is no minor child, no father, no mother, no detective, no wrecked car, no damaged garage door, and no ruined computer.
6. You are not alone. Questions about this scam come up several times a week here on AVVO.
7. Just to be clear: THIS IS A SCAM. THIS SCAM HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR YEARS. THERE IS NO FATHER, NO GIRL, NO FBI, NO DETECTIVE, NO COUNSELING, NO THERAPY, and NO EARLY TERMINATION FEES ON THE PHONE, and the "girl" does not have a hospital bill from "her" suicide attempt.
8. The best thing to do is block their numbers and ignore them. You can report them to the police for fraud and extortion, but without an ID that is a dead end. They use "burner" phones and spoof caller ID to make you think that it is the police number.
9. If you want to fool around with them, offer to send a check, or offer to meet them somewhere with cash. They WILL NOT give you their name or address, and will not meet with you. Green Dot cards & MoneyPak, Western Union, Target and Walmart gift cards, Cash App or Zelle, Bitcoin ATM machines, eBay, Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon prepaid/reloadable cards and the like are all ANONYMOUS ways to receive money, and the scammers will not identify themselves or they would risk being arrested for EXTORTION.
10. Read all the similar stories at: http://www.thedailyscam.com/plenty-of-fish-pof-has-plenty-of-sharks/
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This is a common scam on the Internet. There is no girl, there is no mother or father or detective -- only Internet fraudsters.
Do NOT send them any money. They are trying to blackmail you, and you are the victim here - not some young girl who does not exist.
Block them and do not communicate with them in the future.
I have never heard of these fraudsters actually posting the pictures because 1) It takes time and makes them no money, and 2) It makes it too easy for them to get caught.
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