Dec 06, 2016 05:17 AM EST

'Sexploitation' Now Using Social Media Comfort Zones: Hackers Become Friends With Victims First Before Collecting Blackmail Material

By JC Santos

Hackers are now preying on social media "safe zones" or "deep" friend circles in an attempt to collect blackmail material against their victims. The scam becomes increasingly difficult to spot as trust develops from the victim until their relationship grows intimate wherein the hacker could introduce sensual activities on camera that they can record and use as blackmail.

According to The Guardian, young to middle-aged males are the typical targets. The hackers would pose as young women and put up a believable social media profile. Then, the woman starts to make friends with the young and middle-aged men -- preying on their weaknesses and soon would persuade them to perform activities online that would compromise their privacy.

Social media scams can be difficult to spot due to the attention to detail certain criminals put to create a believable profile. But holes exist in different areas. According to SmartTricks.net, the best way to spot a fake social media profile is to take that person's photograph and use Google's reverse image search to reveal whether it's a model or celebrity photograph.

Fake social media accounts are not only used for "sextortion" despite the high number of victims it has claimed. Some use it to fake incidents or fabricate evidence to their advantage.

According to CNet.com, a woman named Stephanie Renae Lawson wanted to get even with her ex-boyfriend. She framed him by creating a fake Facebook account in his name. Investigators discovered that Lawson's IP records indicate she created and accessed the account during the time they were together.

Criminals have an easier time to scam victims using the Internet. Whether it be email phishing, employment scams or even pyramid scams, people should be aware of the signs that they are being watched or recorded. Social media users should be wary of social media profile details and their conversation with this individual -- as well as take any necessary precautions.

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