Police Beat: Alleged Instagram extortion

Elizabeth Tarter and Lauren Fox

Threats were made to a University of North Florida student over Instagram direct messages on Monday, threatening to kill the student if they did not send them $500, according to a University Police Department (UPD) report.

UPD responded to a call in The Flats after the victim suspected they had been scammed and began receiving threatening messages, the report said. 

After checking their Instagram spam folder, the student noticed a message from someone who claimed to be Sarah. 

“The message asked if the victim wanted to make $500 just to be her friend,” UPD wrote.

The victim continued to communicate with the alleged scammer, saying she could use the money, wrote UPD. The suspect allegedly sent two electronic checks to the victim’s email, totaling $1,100. After sending the checks, the suspect told the victim to send her back $500 through Zelle or Apple Pay, according to the report. 

The victim deposited the checks but began to suspect they were being scammed and did not send any money to the suspect, UPD wrote. 

Threatening messages from the suspect began to come into the victim’s direct messages, including threats to kill, the report said. The suspect sent “graphic pictures of dead men to scare [the victim],” UPD wrote.

A person claiming to be an FBI agent emailed the victim, saying they would have the victim arrested for stealing from the suspect, UPD wrote. UPD Googled the name the alleged FBI agent used, finding a TikTok using the same name and photo from the email, although “the credentials appear to be fake,” UPD wrote. 


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