Scammers target online daters prone to sexting, deputies say

Scammers pose as deputies, order victims to pay fine via Western Union, money order

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Glenna Milberg - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Scammers in South Florida are targeting a new market niche -- online daters who are prone to sexting.

On Tuesday, the Broward Sheriff's Office warned that scammers are passing themselves off as law enforcement officers working cases of Internet crimes against children.

Officials said the scammers, posing as daters on, engage the victims in conversations, eventually asking them to send sexually explicit pictures.

WPLG-TV reports once the victim does, the suspect identifies himself as a Broward Sheriff's deputy. The suspect claims the picture was sent to a minor and tells the victim to pay a fine via Western Union or money order to avoid being arrested on a federal warrant. Victims have paid between $500 and $1,500 to meet the extortionists' demands.

"Apparently my name is being used," said BSO Major Don Peterson. "Utilizing my name as a law enforcement officer, they try to get these victims to send money. Basically it's an extortion."

Peterson said no law enforcement officer would ever ask for money in lieu of an arrest, so the public should know right away that it is a scam.

Investigators believe the con-artists are getting the names of deputies to use in the scheme online.

More than 100 victims have fallen for this scam since March.

Copyright 2014 by Graham Media Group. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed