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Newtown police confirmed this week that they are investigating an internet fraud, which purports to have teenage girls who are interested in modeling work, pose for web-based photos in various states of undress, in what appears to be an elaborate form of voyeurism.
The scam is lent an air of credibility because an electronic message that is sent to the girls seeking their participation falsely claims to be from a known peer, whose relative is supposedly conducting a clothing project requiring models; when in fact, the situation is fraudulent, according to police.
Police Detective Jason Frank said he was contacted on July 7 by the National Center For Missing & Exploited Children, informing him of a complaint from a Newtown resident that had been filed with that agency about the fraudulent web photography situation, and he is now investigating the matter.
In the internet scam, the girls are directed to use a web-based app, which purportedly automatically measures their figures while they are photographed in various states of undress, according to police. The girls are falsely told that their interaction with the computer program is private and their actions are not visible to others, according to police.
Det Frank said that no money is involved in the ruse, adding the motive of those conducting the scam appears to be obtaining images for voyeuristic purposes.
The local victim in the scam is a female Newtown High School student under age 18, the detective said. That person complied with the web-based requests for providing images, he said.
The detective said he expects that the ruse’s point of origin is “most likely outside of the United States.”
Det Frank, who specializes in investigating computer-based crime, said that people who have been victimized by such a scam should contact him at the police station at 203-426-5841.
Lieutenant Aaron Bahamonde, the police department’s public information officer, said that parents should counsel their children about the multitude of scams that occur on social media on the internet. Parents cannot assume that their children will make appropriate decisions when encountering fraudulent situations on the web, he said.
More broadly, the lieutenant urged that parents educate themselves about internet-based scams and the dangers that they pose.