Tulsa Police Warning About Social Media Scam Targeting Teens

Wednesday, June 15th 2022, 9:09 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Tulsa Police Department is warning teenagers about a blackmail scam that's making the rounds on social media.

TPD said predators have been exploiting teenage boys, getting them to send nude photos then threatening to release the pictures if they don't pay.

Lt. Joshua Showman with TPD's Sexual Predator Evidence Recovery Unit said he's seen a major escalation in these kinds of scams, with half a dozen victims in the last month alone.

"We've seen victims as young as eight years old of these kinds of scams," he said.

Showman said older men, often overseas, pose as a young girl then get into fake relationships with the boys.

Once they've built trust, they ask for nude or embarrassing photos.

"Generally, that's done in order for the sexual gratification of the suspect," Showman said. "The new element here is the level of aggressiveness in our suspects of demanding payment ... They're scaring these young kids; they're calling them in the middle of the night."

Showman said even after they've been paid, the scammers keep demanding more money and often the photos are never erased.

"It could end up somewhere else and circulate on the internet for years," Showman said.

His advice to teens is to never send compromising photos in the first place, and to be extra cautious when talking to strangers online.

Lt. Showman said at their worst, these scams can end in the victim's death.

"This hasn't happened in Tulsa to my knowledge," he said. "But in other communities, we have had reports of teens committing suicide as a result of the stress involved with this type of scam."

Showman said this has been happening around the country for a while.

Since Tulsa Police first started seeing these scams in March, they've only gotten more common.