Lancaster DA: Dating website scam sends victims child pornography

LANCASTER COUNTY, PA -- The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office is warning the people about a dating website scam.

“This one, I’ve never heard of before. It’s particularly disturbing,” said District Attorney Craig Stedman.

According to a release from the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office, the scam works like this: Victims respond to a dating website where they think they are communicating with a 23 year-old woman. In reality, it's the scammers, who then send the victims child pornography. Then they contact the victim and claim to be from the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office. The callers demand that the victim pay $500 or go to prison.

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office says that no such calls have been made.

“You’ve got extortion, bribery, threats and obviously, the transmission of child porn here, which takes it to a whole new level,” said Stedman.

Anyone who believes they were targeted in this scam is urged to contact their local police department.

“We’d like to get the information to see if we can get the electronic signature and trace it back to where it’s coming from and hold the person or persons responsible,” said Stedman.

Stedman acknowledges that they understand why someone would be reluctant to call investigators, having child pornography on their device.

He said a victim will not face charges for the child pornography because the victim did not seek it.

The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office can wipe the child porn off a device if someone falls victim to this scam.

“You don’t want that on there for any reason...turning up years later or somebody accessing it in the home or anything like that or five or ten years later, showing up and what is this doing here? It could actually cause problems down the line,” Stedman said.

Stedman said they're always trying to keep up with the ebb and flow of online scams, calling this a "new low."

"The digital world unfortunately provides limitless opportunities for scammers," says Stedman. "There is a simple message for residents: Be alert. Law enforcement would never contact anyone in such a manner, or make this type of demand."

Police and the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office are investigating this scam.

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