News9.com and Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A scam artist is using a legitimate dating chat line to try to con people into giving him cold, hard cash.
The con artist is using the Mega Mates chat line, which is a legitimate free dating service. People call and leave messages for other local singles. Callers can leave behind a free personal message, listen to other caller's messages, or even chat live for free.
But the scam artist is using the phone chat line to con people into thinking he's a police officer, and that he's caught them doing something wrong.
In the reports, victims were called by a female who said she was 28-years-old. The female reportedly spoke with both victims over the phone and then hung up.
Both victims later received calls from the scammer, a man who claimed to be a sheriff's deputy. He told the victims that the woman who called them was actually a juvenile. The suspect then told the victims over the phone that they needed to pay him $500 to avoid being arrested.
News 9 spoke with a caller named James who refused to fall victim to the con artist's trap.
"He said I had been talking on the phone and had phone sex with a minor over the telephone and that he needed to get $500 dollars from me in order to make this charge disappear," said James. "He started screaming at me, telling me that charges were going to be filed and then hung up."
Instead of giving the man money, James called police.
"Obviously this is an extortion scam," said Sgt. Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City police Department. "Anyone who receives a phone call like this, whether it's on this case or any other type of extortion case, we certainly want to hear from you through 911 immediately."
Police say what's worse is that this con artist is even leaving behind the real phone number of the Oklahoma City Police Department's Sex Crimes Unit, making him seem legitimate, even though he's not.
As for James, he says the experience has convinced him not to use phone chat lines for his future dating needs.
News 9 contacted the customer service department at Mega Mates, and they say they have received dozens of calls from customers in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa who have received the bogus phone calls. They say they are working with local authorities and the FBI to try to track down the con artist.
Anyone who receives an extortion call should dial 911 immediately. Anyone with information regarding these cases should call Crime Stoppers at (405) 235-7300.