Dating Site Users Scammed by Fake P.I.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Kathy Broom’s been on the phone a lot lately. One call after the next, ten total, from men, all calling about the same dating website scam. Broom says, “I’m just trying to reassure them that it’s a scam.”

Broom is a private investigator with Eagle Eye in Dilworth, a real company, being named in a made-up story. She says, “There are setting these guys up with all intentions of sending that photo. And once they send them that photo, they have them.”

The photo is of an allegedly underage girl, naked. One of the men duped by the scam agreed to talk with WCCB Charlotte on the phone, but didn’t want to be identified. He says, “I did not ask for it (the photo). I did not even want it.”

The scam works like this: men chat with someone they think is an adult on a dating website. They exchange phone numbers, and start communicating off the site. Then, the men receive the picture of the naked teen, followed by a call from someone pretending to be a private eye. The fake P.I. says he works with Eagle Eye, and has been hired by the teen’s father, who wants $500 for the hassle of having to shut his daughter’s phone down.

The man we talked to says, “It was a learning lesson for me.” He caught on, and refused to pay.

Lt. Tom Barry runs CMPD’s Special Victims Division. He reminds people, “At no time would any law enforcement agency, local police, federal, IRS included, ask for money over the phone.”

“Stay vigilant, trust but verify and if you’re an adult, think twice,” says cyber security expert Mike Holland from Fortalice Solutions. He also urges dating website users to keep communication on the site. The terms of use governs misuse, too. Holland says, “The other thing that dating websites or applications will have is the ability to track. They will know where the activity is coming from.”

Back at Eagle Eye, Broom will keep setting the record straight, and telling the men: “They need to call the police and report it, because the more people that report it, maybe something can be done.”

It won’t be easy to find the fake P.I.; he’s calling the men from “burner” or temporary numbers to cover his tracks. Meantime, Broom has contacted the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint about the misuse of the Eagle Eye name.