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Sheriff’s office warns of extortion attempts

 

The Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office has seen a new and creative way for criminals to extort money from unsuspecting victims and the frequency seems to be increasing. Extortion has been occurring for many years, but as times and technology change, so do the efforts of those who wish to take advantage of others. Recently, the Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office has seen a new trend in these cases in our area. Deputies have received reports of attempted extortion via social media.

A typical social media extortion case begins with an individual accepting a Facebook friend request from a stranger. Through that exchange, the suspect begins to learn personal information about the victim. Victims are tricked into divulging compromising information, pictures, or video. The threat typically includes posting the compromising items on the victim’s Facebook timeline or the victim’s friend’s timeline unless money is paid. It is often difficult to determine the true identity of the suspect, which makes these cases difficult to pursue and prosecute.

The Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office encourages everyone to be cautious when accepting social media friend requests. We recommend only accepting requests from people you personally know. Having frank discussions with children in one’s home over safe use of the Internet is also strongly suggested.

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