How to Spot & Avoid Cam Girl Scams
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Have you visited an adult webcam or “cam girl” site, or received a friend request or dating match from someone claiming to be a “webcam model,” and are now being threatened with the release of your intimate images unless you pay money or meet some other demand? If so, you are the victim of an attempted cam girl scam.
Learning how to spot and avoid these romance scammers is essential to preventing being extorted online. You can spot and avoid cam girl scams by learning to identify these telltale signs:
- The cam girl will not show her face and/or does not respond to your requests – If so, it may be a sign that it is a prerecorded video trying to lure you in;
- The cam girl wants to share contact information – Asking to exchange email addresses, phone numbers, or some other information is an indicator of a possible attempt to extort you by appearing to want to get more personal;
- The cam girl wants your money first – Never send any money except through the legitimate webcam site, as you may be opening yourself up to a potential scam, particularly dangerous if you have given up any of your contact information;
- The cam girl wants you to share intimate video and images of yourself – Although presented as an erotic desire to see your physical appearance, this content is frequently captured by illegitimate scammers and used to extort you for money.
At Minc Law, we see this kind of scam daily and have helped hundreds of clients prevent the release of their intimate images or videos to friends or family. We know our clients need an ally to restore their reputation, eliminate the panic and fear that their intimate activity will be released, and give them peace of mind.
In this article, we explain the different types of cam girl scams. Then, we address how to protect yourself against these scams, how to respond if you are being scammed, and how the experienced attorneys at Minc Law can assist you in getting out of the cam girl scam and restore and protect your reputation.
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Common Types of Cam Girl Scams
In today’s digital landscape, virtual interactions with strangers are the norm. Especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, individuals have turned to the internet as a way to meet new people, make meaningful connections, or alleviate loneliness.
In this digital landscape, ‘cam girl scams’ and ‘cam model scams’ have emerged as a way to profit off of victims who are seeking out intimate content online. The FBI has reported a significant increase in this type of scam in recent years—but many victims do not file a report and try to handle the issue on their own due to shame or embarrassment.
What Are the Different Types of Cam Girl Scams?
Not all cam girl scams are alike, and some types of scams are more serious than others. The most serious form of this scam is when the victim is unknowingly recorded while engaging in a private webcam session—but there are other forms of camgirl scams, including simple credit card fraud.
Below, we dive into the most common approaches these scammers take:
- Adult webcam sites,
- Dating app and social media sextortion,
- “Down on her luck” cam girls, and
- Credit card fraud.
Adult Webcam Site
The most serious form of cam girl scam is when the victim is unknowingly recorded while engaging in a private webcam session using their own webcam.
In this scenario, the cam girl video is prerecorded—but the victim believes they are entering into a private session. After engaging with the victim, the scammer wants to “get to know you better” by asking the victim to share their personal contact information so the conversation can continue “offline.” But after the chat or video turns sexual, the scammer uses the compromising prerecorded images or video to extort the victim.
Dating App Match & Social Media Request
Social media and dating apps permeate our lives, which makes these platforms fertile breeding grounds for scammers of all kinds. And since many of these platforms allow users to send private images and video messages, it is all too easy for sextortionists to obtain compromising material from their victims. This online dating scam can be particularly cruel as the scammer may invest a lot of time making the victim feel as though a close relationship is forming.
In this scenario, you might match with an attractive profile on a dating app such as Tinder, Grindr, Plenty of Fish, or Bumble. Or perhaps an attractive stranger sends you a friend request on a social media site like Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. The chat quickly turns flirtatious, and once they have built up your trust, often after a period of days or weeks, the scammer may:
- Ask you to sign up for their webcam site to have some fun,
- Increasingly ask you to send more explicit images, or
- Request that you move to a private phone call or video call to get intimate together.
Once you have done what they ask, they may either record you for the purposes of blackmailing you or simply steal your credit card information.
The “Down on Her Luck” or “In Danger of Harm” Cam Girl
This type of scam can take place on webcam sites or through any social or dating app where strangers can contact each other. In this scenario, a supposedly scared or lonely attractive girl reaches out to you for help. They tend to target an older victim, frequently called a “sugar daddy” and they need rescuing. They claim to be in a dangerous or bad situation, such as:
- A lack of basics like rent money or food,
- An abusive boyfriend, or
- A sick elderly parent.
The cam girl preys on your sympathy and assures you that you share a special bond; you are “not like the others” and are the only one who understands her. She eventually convinces you to share your credit card information or send her money. Once she has obtained what she wants from you, she moves on to sextortion tactics.
Credit Card Fraud
In this scenario, once the cam girl has gotten the victim’s attention with promises of more enticing content, she asks you for your credit card information directly to deliver more personalized, special content for the victim. However, in most cases, the end goal is to get access to the victim’s credit card information which results in rapid depletion of funds often before the victim even becomes aware that no personalized content is going to come.
Every cam site has its own safe and secure means of third-party payment, so if you are being asked to pay the cam girl directly, you should approach the situation with extreme caution.
How Do Cam Girl Scams Work & How Do People Play Into Them?
Cam girl scams are a form of sextortion—and most of them are done through catfishing their victims. Many ‘cam girls’ are not who they appear to be. They catfish their victims by creating false online identities to enter into a fictitious relationship with their victims and lure them into a false sense of trust.
Once they have gained the victim’s trust (or at least convinced the victim that they are who they say they are), they ask for sexual content and/or money.
Most sextortionists live overseas. At Minc law, we often find that sextortionists operate out of one of the following countries:
- Côte d’Ivoire (The Ivory Coast),
- The Philippines,
- Morocco, and
Since most sextortion scams take place internationally—and perpetrators tend to use public internet services and internet cafes—it can be difficult to ensure that these scammers face consequences for their actions.
What Else Should You Know About Cam Girl Scams?
Remember that cam girl scams take on many forms—and some can be very subtle or take place over a long time. When dealing with internet interactions, it is a good rule of thumb never to assume that an attractive stranger is who they appear to be. If it feels too good to be true, it often is. Even if you think you would never fall for such a scam, trust us, many have.
To keep yourself safe from these kinds of scams, check your ego at the door. Always keep your wits about you and pay attention to what is being said and what information is being requested of you. Take a moment to think about the potential consequences of sharing online with strangers whether it is intimate images of yourself, contact information, or credit card information.
How to Recognize a Scam in the Cam Model Industry
Although cam girl scams can vary widely in approach, there are a few common signs of a cam girl scam in progress. Knowing how to spot them is crucial to avoid being extorted.
What Are Some Quick Ways to Spot a Cam Girl Scam?
If you are on the webcam site or platform, there are two key simple, straightforward ways to spot a romance scammer:
- The cam girl refuses to do a private show,
- The live chat does not match up with the public show (for example, if she is never typing on screen yet her chat is active),
- The victim is suddenly showered with attention and desire from a purported cam girl.
These may be signs that there is a plan to extort underway. The video you are watching is often a pre-recorded show and the ‘cam girl’ is not who they say they are and is interested in only your money.
And no matter what platform you are using, look for the following red flags to spot a web model scam:
They Seem Too Good to Be True
If you receive a message or friend request from an attractive stranger who then immediately moves the conversation into an intimate or flirtatious territory, they could very well be trying to scam you.
You can use Google’s reverse image search tool to see if their profile photo or other posted photos appear elsewhere online. Many sextortionists and scammers steal photos from models or other social media profiles.
No Mutual Friends or Connections
If you are being messaged on social media by a stranger, check their friend list to see if you have any connections in common. If you have no mutual friends, the stranger may have reached out to you for nefarious purposes.
Their Messages Appear to Be Translated From Another Language
Many internet sextortionists operate internationally and do not speak English fluently. If their messages seem stilted, riddled with grammatical and spelling errors, or seem translated or scripted, you could be dealing with a scammer.
They Try to Move the Conversation to Another App
Sextortionists and scammers often want to conduct their scam through a more private app with end-to-end encryption, like WhatsApp or Skype. If they ask to move the conversation from a dating site, social media site, or webcam site to a third platform, this should raise a red flag.
They Send You a Link to a Service or Website
Many scams start by sending the victim a link. Whether the link contains a virus or directs you to a site that will steal your personal and credit card information, it is likely not what it appears to be.
Your new acquaintance on social media or a webcam site may request financial help or ask you to visit a website. But if you click on the link they send you, you are risking your device’s security and your financial data.
What Should You Do Once You Identify a Cam Girl Scam?
If you know you have been targeted by a cam girl scammer, it is essential to act quickly. Do not engage with or pay the scammer; instead, work to secure your information, document the interaction(s), and report the scammer immediately.
Stop Engaging With the Scammer
If the cam girl is messaging or harassing you, do not respond to them. The more you engage with a sextortionist, the more confident they will be that they can manipulate you. Do not move to the top of the list as a “hot lead” by frequently engaging with the sextortionist. The more you communicate, the more aggressive the scammer may become.
Avoid Paying Them (or Paying Any More Money)
If the scammer is threatening you with sensitive material, you may feel that you have no choice but to do what they say. But giving in to their demands shows them that they can control you. Again, those victims that pay any amount are now seen as a never-ending well of funds to be constantly extorted with threats of ruining the victim’s life.
Paying a scammer usually does not make the problem go away; they will simply come back and ask for more money or sexual images later. There is no sufficient amount that will make the sextortion scam stop. Some have been known to ask for regular weekly, biweekly or monthly payments from the victim to avoid the release of intimate content to wives, girlfriends, employers, and others.
Document All Communications With the Scammer
Work quickly to preserve all evidence of the scammer’s messages. Some victims of cam girl scams are hesitant to save proof of embarrassing messages or media—but the more thorough you can be, the easier it will be for your attorney and law enforcement to resolve the situation effectively.
Take screenshots of texts, chats, and any other communication, including email addresses, phone numbers, and platform user names used to provide our attorneys with multiple ways of contacting the scammers to shut them down.
Secure All Social Media Profiles & Online Accounts
If you are being targeted by scammers, you should make it as difficult as possible for malicious individuals to access your information or contact you online. Some scam victims choose to deactivate their social media altogether but victims can also “button up” their social media privacy.
Most social media platforms allow users to set their accounts to private, so we recommend maximizing the privacy settings on all of your online accounts immediately.
Report the Scammer to the Relevant Social Media, Dating, or Webcam Site
If the webcam site is legitimate, it should have terms of service (ToS) detailing what type of behavior is allowed by both users and performers. If you are a victim of a cam girl scam on one of these sites, you may be able to report the incident to the website’s moderators so that the scammer cannot use the platform to target others.
For further reading, please see our comprehensive resource explaining what to do if someone is blackmailing you with nude photos.
How to Avoid Scams on Cam Girl Sites
It is easy to know you have been targeted by a webcam model scam once you become a victim. But it is better to learn to identify the signs before the scammer has drawn you into a compromising situation.
In this section, we provide actionable tips for protecting yourself from these kinds of scams.
What Steps Should You Take to Avoid a Cam Girl Scam?
Cam girl scammers and other online sextortionists look for victims who are incautious. They target emotionally vulnerable, impulsive individuals who do not guard their personal information. Below, we explore seven tips for making yourself a less-than-ideal target for scammers.
Avoid Engaging With Strangers Online in a Vulnerable State
The most dangerous time for online sextortion scams is when you do not have your wits about you. For instance, using an online dating app after a recent breakup (or simply chatting with strangers on social media after a few drinks) can make you more prone to miss red flags.
Be Cautious of New Online Connections
Always assume strangers on the internet are not who they say they are. Sextortionists often try to catfish their victims by sending an attractive photo or video in the hopes that you will “return the favor”—but they could have easily stolen or faked those images.
Set All of Your Social Media Accounts to Private
It is harder to target someone whose online presence is protected. By maximizing your social media privacy settings, you make it more difficult for strangers to see your personal information (like friends, relationship status, location, and occupation) and view your posts.
Also, try to limit the kinds of information you share on social media. The more transparent you are about your life, the easier it is for scammers to trick you.
Avoid Conversations to Move the Conversation to Different Platforms
If you are chatting with a new connection, be wary if they ask to move the conversation to another platform. This could be a red flag that they intend to record you for the purposes of sextortion.
Turn Off Your Electronic Devices & Web Cameras When Not in Use
Webcam hacking is, unfortunately, quite real. Protect your privacy by turning off your devices and covering your built-in webcams when you are not using them.
Refrain From Sending Intimate Images or Videos of Yourself Online
The best way to avoid sextortion scams is to avoid sending intimate photos or videos of yourself to anyone. Even if the recipient has the best of intentions, the cloud can be hacked.
While it may not be practical to avoid engaging in intimate acts online altogether, try to use caution when you do. Be sure you have researched the recipient so that you can be reasonably confident that they are who they say they are. And avoid including your face in the frame of the photo or video.
Pay With a Credit Card
If you are paying for a webcam show or intimate media, avoid using a debit card. Using a credit card or reloadable card makes it easier to reverse the charges if you realize you have been targeted by a scammer.
How Should You Report a Cam Girl Scam?
If you have made a payment to a cam girl scammer, your first act should be to report the incident to your credit card company or bank. Depending on the amount of money you paid, the fraudulent incident could be included as a narrative on your credit report—which is why it is essential to act quickly to cancel the payment.
Next, report the incident to the platform where the romance scam took place. Whether you received messages on a webcam site or social media and/or dating app, you may be able to have the user’s account suspended by reporting their fraudulent activity.
National & International Cyber Crime Agencies to Contact
If you are in the United States, you can report sextortion or an online extortion attempt to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). This agency handles cyber-related crimes, including sextortion attempts. If the victim is a minor, you can also reach out to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
You may also want to report the webcam scam to your local law enforcement and your local FBI field office.
And if you are in the United Kingdom, you can report the crime to the National Crime Agency and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. Canadian victims can reach out to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, while Australian victims can upload an image-based report to the eSafety Commissioner.
For further reading, we recommend checking out our comprehensive guide answering a common question, ‘Do sextortionists follow through?’
Legal Options For Victims of Cam Girl Scams
While there are several steps you can take on your own after being targeted by a cam girl scam, it is helpful to retain the help of an experienced professional.
Below, we discuss why it is important to preserve evidence of such a scam, as well as your legal options for recourse.
If You Are a Target of a Cam Girl Scam, Why is It Important to Preserve the Evidence?
If you decide to report the crime or hire an attorney to help resolve the incident, evidence is critical. It will be extremely difficult for a legal team or law enforcement to bring the perpetrator to justice if there is no proof of the crime.
Make sure that you document all of your communications with the scammer as soon as possible. Relevant evidence includes:
- Screenshots of any messages between you and the scammer;
- Photos of their profile and account URL;
- A list of any screen names, email addresses, and/or user handles they are using; and
- Any other evidence that you think could help identify or track down the perpetrator.
What Are Your Legal Options if You Are a Target of Cam Girl Scams?
If you are a victim of a webcam scam, your first priority is likely peace of mind and personal relief. Many individuals in a similar situation feel hesitant to disclose the facts of the matter due to shame or embarrassment-but it is important to remember that you are the victim. It is your right to seek justice and restitution. And further, by taking action against the scammer, you may be protecting others as well.
It is often advisable to make a report to your local, federal, or international law enforcement agencies. But keep in mind that since most cam girl scams and other sextortion attempts happen internationally. Most law enforcement agencies do not have the resources or jurisdiction to bring these perpetrators to justice, which is why it is best to partner with an experienced internet attorney that can help you resolve the situation effectively.
Use Content Removal Services
Cam girl scams and other related activities are considered crimes in almost every country. If the perpetrator follows through on their threat to release intimate images of you online, content removal services can help you. These professionals know the ins and outs of platform reporting procedures, DMCA takedown notices, and other strategies for removing harmful content at its source.
Pursue Legal Action & Remedies
An attorney experienced in internet matters can help you evaluate your legal options—as well as provide objective advice and support during this distressing experience. At Minc Law, we treat these cam girl scam situations as “emergency consultations,” giving them priority as matters that should be addressed immediately. We discuss the current status of the extortion attempt and establish your most crucial concerns.
Together, we draft and send a cease and desist letter to the scammer on all possible platforms. Then, we discuss how to restore, maintain, and monitor your online reputation. Our attorneys can assist with:
- Identifying anonymous scammers,
- Removing any published content from the internet,
- Handling communication with the scammer on your behalf, and
- Monitoring the internet for future harmful content.
How Can Minc Law Help Combat Cam Girl Scams
If a cam girl or web model scammer is extorting you for money—with the threat of releasing intimate images of you if you do not pay—we can help you.
It is natural to feel scared and unsure of where to turn. An experienced legal team can give you invaluable legal advice and partner with you to resolve the situation as quickly and painlessly as possible. Not only can our team help identify the perpetrator and prevent the situation from escalating, but we can also take concrete actions to monitor the internet for future attacks.
And for more complicated situations, you may want an attorney’s advice before making a report to law enforcement (such as if money changed hands, for instance). An experienced internet extortion lawyer can also make clear to the scammer that you are taking their actions seriously—and they can face real consequences if they pursue the matter further.
“Michele Simonelli recently helped me with an sextortion case. Due to the escalating nature of the situation, she promptly moved a previously scheduled meeting forward, and took immediate action to help mitigate the threat. As anyone facing these type situations knows, it’s extraordinarily agonizing, and one cannot even think logically. Michele was reassuring, and extremely responsive to my texts and phone calls, and also appeared non-judgemental. There’s no way to know the outcome had I not used her services, however, the backing of her and the firm gave me enough confidence/hope to get through the situation, with what appears to be a successful outcome. Thank you Michele for your professionalism, responsiveness and kindness! I highly recommend this firm and particularly Michele.”
August 19, 2022
At Minc Law, our team has proven experience putting an end to online sextortion scams and harassment. We can help prevent the release of compromising content online—and in the event that it is released, we know how to remove it quickly and without drawing unnecessary attention. If you are the target of a cam girl scam or want to remove intimate images or videos from the internet, contact us by calling (216) 373-7706, speaking with a Chat Representative, or filling out our contact form online.
Brooke Brennan and Kevin Smith. Press Release - FBI Phoenix Field Office Warns of Increase in Sextortion Schemes Targeting Young Boys. Federal Bureau of Investigation (2022).
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command Safety Centre. Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors