BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It started with a 29-year-old Baton Rouge man looking for love online, and ended with him getting a call from a man pretending to be an officer threatening to charge him with several felonies.
“I matched with a girl, well who I thought was a girl, on OkCupid.com,” said the Baton Rouge man, who we’ll call Matt.
A few weeks ago, Matt thought he was talking to a woman from Alexandria, who asked for his phone number and a picture of him. “I sent a picture of me fully clothed, wearing a hat and a plaid shirt, sitting in a restaurant, and she sends an explicit picture back to me,” said Matt. “A picture of her lying in bed topless.”
Matt says he wanted to be a gentleman and take her out for dinner, but she asked for his address instead, which he provided. “She never shows up. Me, I’m just thinking that it’s just another date that doesn’t show. It’s happened before and it all happened again, no big deal and I move on with my evening. The next day, I get a phone call from a gentleman,” said Matt. The person on the phone said the young girl was a minor. Matt provided WAFB the voicemail he received.
“Yes sir, Mr. -----, this is Trooper Curtis Parker with Louisiana State Police. Sir, you may want to give me a call back at this number here 'cause at this point sir, in the morning at 9 a.m., there will be three felony charges, one for possession, felony possession of child pornography, one for felony child exploitation, and one for felony online solicitation of a minor.”
“He tells me to call him back on his cell phone, which is a West Virginia phone number, which I thought was a little weird,” said Matt.
The fake trooper told Matt to call the girl’s dad and maybe he could be reasoned with. Matt got a hold of the so-called dad and that person said he wanted up to $2,000 from him to make things right and sent him texts saying, “as long as you keep your end in this mess and do what we have agreed on, you have nothing to fear.”
“I did get duped enough to give them $800 before I figured out what was going on,” said Matt.
He says all communication abruptly stopped last week. That’s because the South Carolina Department of Corrections indicted five inmates and ten others on the outside after a two-year long investigation. They say the inmates were using cell phones illegally brought into the prison. “They’re physically incarcerated, but as you see today, virtually, they’re out there among us. They’re on the internet, they’re able to continue their schemes from behind bars, and continue their criminal ways,” said South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling.
Officials called it “sextortion,” with the cons taking half a million dollars, mainly from service members, but there were others like Matt who also fell victim. “I was more driven by fear then I was logic, which that is what they are playing on,” said Matt. “I was scared I committed this felony and they’re talking about locking me up for a lifetime and put me on the sex offender registry and that is a scary, scary thought.”
That’s why Matt is speaking up, in the hopes of stopping anyone else from becoming a victim if more scammers are out there.
Matt is currently fighting to get his $800 back, but no word yet on whether that will happen.