Consumer Alert: FTC warns of extortion scam through dating apps

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — I have to tell you about a scam that’s victimizing a whole lot of folks looking for love and this is not your average romance scam.

It’s so widespread, the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning today.

Scammers are targeting folks who are using LGBTQ dating apps. Here’s how it works.

The scammer poses as a romantic partner on apps like Grindr and Feeld. He sends explicit pictures and asks for photos in return. Then the scammer blackmails the victim. He threatens to expose you to friends, family, and employers.

The FTC has this advice:

  • Know who you’re talking to. Do a reverse image search of the person’s picture.
  • Never share personal information with someone you just met.
  • And never pay the extortionist. After all, you have no guarantee the scammer will follow up on his promise to destroy the pictures.

But the agency does want you to report the crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the FTC.

Prices at the pump may have peaked

AAA reports today’s national average gas price is little changed from last week. It’s $3.18 down a cent from last week. The average price in New York State for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.28. Last year at this time it was a dollar cheaper, $2.28. According to AAA, in Rochester, the average price is $3.27, unchanged from last week.

Here’s the good news. Analysts with Kiplinger believe gas prices may have peaked. Remember, some thought prices would skyrocket because Ida shut down refineries. Refinery utilization was down almost 10 percent last week, but fortunately, it had little impact on gas prices. And refineries will soon switch to the winter-blend which is cheaper. So we should soon save a few cents when we fill up.

The price of natural gas has skyrocketed

But those pennies you save at the pump may mean little after you pay your utility bill. Natural gas prices have soared in recent weeks. Here’s why. For much of the country, this summer was hot, really hot. So folks used more electricity. And many states depend on gas-fired power plants to produce that electricity. Now, as we head into winter, gas stockpiles are low. And so those pesky principles of supply and demand kick in. If we have a mild autumn, we can build the stockpiles in the months ahead. But if temps tumble early, natural gas prices could be as brutal as forgetting your gloves on a cold night in January.