The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) recently released a message that warned students of a social media scam circulating through the UNCG community.
The warning was sent out via email around noon on Oct. 23. The email was titled “Important Safety Information” and was sent from the University Messages account, but was signed by both Cathy Akens, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and UNCG Chief of Police Paul Lester. Both Akens and Lester asked students to be cautious when using social media, as someone anonymous has been working to extort and blackmail students.
“We write today to remind you to be vigilant about the threats to your well-being that exist in social media,” said Akens and Lester in the emailed statement. “Please keep in mind that some individuals strategically take advantage of the anonymity that comes with social media. Remember that the individuals with whom you interact via social media may not always be who or what they seem.”
In the anonymous scam, young women from UNCG have been offered potential opportunities to models. The women who followed through with the offer were “victimized,” according to the email, as they were then asked to send in revealing pictures of themselves. These pictures were then used to blackmail the young women, as the anonymous person who requested them threatened to post the photos unless they were given access to social media accounts and other private information.
“This lets the scammers access the victim’s social network and gain leverage over more and more people,” read the email. “This is a crime. It is a form of sexual exploitation. It is dangerous. You must be aware and protect yourself so you and your friends, families and loved ones are not put at risk.”
UNCG is continuing to work on this case, and recognized in the email that crimes like this happen at colleges and universities across the country. If anyone comes in contact with this or any similar scams in the future, UNCG has requested that they contact the UNCG Police or the Dean of Students Office at (336) 334-5514.
“Please take threats that exist in the digital form and across social media seriously,” wrote Akens and Lester. “We urge you to help us keep you and UNCG even safer by being alert, aware, and by alerting the University and your friends about any threatening behavior and suspicious activity, whether it happens in the physical or virtual world.”