UPDATED STORY ABOUT THE “Underage Girl Sext” SCAM – April 10, 2020
By the Spring of 2020, admidst the global pandemic, occurrences of the “underage girl sext” scam had decreased so significantly that we heard from only 3 men between April 1 and April 16. However, on April 10 we heard from a man we will call Brian (not his real name) who had been targeted in such a way that we are certain that his scammer is most likely one of the original 6 men who have been running this scam from a jail in S. Carolina where they are incarcerated for other crimes. Brian tells his story to us in such detail, and with such insight into the signs and warnings why it is a scam that we wanted to share it with our readers. Brian is also the 848th victim to tell us he has been targeted by this brutal scam. Here is his story…
This is Brian’s story, told to us on April 11, 2020:
“I took some time yesterday to type everything out as detailed and thoroughly as I could. I apologize for it being an essay but I really wanted to share as much detail as possible as these men (or man) are very convincing. I did not pay any money, thankfully, as you’ll see in my narrative below.
On April 9th I received a phone call from a semi-local number. I answered and a male voice started talking. The voice was very confident and clear. The man stated he was a Private Investigator and asked me if the name “Amber Davis” rung a bell. [TDS NOTE: The name “Amber” and “Davis” has been used many times before by this scammer.] Before I continue, I’ll start at the beginning…
I have been using the Bumble dating app for sometime now. I am in my 30’s. In the past couple of weeks I matched with a girl named Amber. She appeared Hispanic-looking or multi-cultural in some way but definitely not caucasian. I don’t recall her specific age but she was young, between 18-20 I believe. I deleted my Bumble account over a week ago and never took screenshots of Amber’s profile so I don’t remember the specifics, but I do recall the conversations being mostly normal but short and that she would take a while to respond each time. I actually was planning to delete my bumble account and suggested we text so that we could keep talking after I deleted my profile. I gave her my number. Either that day or a couple days later she texted me (I had already deleted my bumble) and said “hey it’s Amber from Bumble.” Unlike many of the posts on your site, it was actually me who wanted to get into texting rather than the “girl” being “aggressive” right away like in a lot of the other stories. I believe the first text she sent me was a full body (clothed) picture of her. If it wasn’t the first text she sent me it was within the next couple. She looked to be in the bathroom and she was wearing jeans and a see-through top that basically only covered her breasts (but lots visible from the side). So far as I could tell it was the same girl from Bumble. We conversed back and forth over the next few days with her usually taking a long time to text back but when she did text back she was very chatty. We had discussed maybe meeting up and she/he/it actually sent me her supposed location via some kind of GPS app. Whatever phone was being used it wasn’t an iPhone because the message boxes were green and the location she shared was not through iPhone maps. She asked how far my location was from her, it was 30ish minutes away I recall. The location where the phone was supposedly at/where she was at, put her right off the highway about 30 minutes from me. I thought cool, she’s not too far away. On Wednesday evening she texted me and since I thought she was 18 or older, I decided to try and get into some sexting. I asked her for a pic of her breasts. I’ll be honest I don’t really recall the exact sequence of events with how the texts went that night. Caught up in the moment and getting the sense that she was willing to send pics, I went along with it, said my age and such. She asked when my birthday was and just generically said “the fall” and asked hers and she said October. She said she was excited and would be getting a car (we had discussed the day before or earlier that day her coming over or meeting up but she mentioned she didn’t have a car). I forget the next few texts but when it rains it pours and the nudes started coming in. Upper body pics at first, mostly low light in the mirror in the bathroom, face partially concealed by the flash but every pic was consistent. One thing I did notice was her nipples were pierced. I’m fairly sure you have to be 18 to get your nipples pierced or as a minor if a legal guardian is present or signs a waiver then you can, so looking back I think it’s clear whoever the girl is in the pics is 18 or older, I doubt her “mad father and mother” who I’ll get to in a bit would have signed off on that. A couple pics were close ups of her seemingly in her bedroom (clothed) shooting a middle finger or a kissy face or something like that, then more nudes, now showing between her legs, followed by a 3 second video clip too. I asked her if she would wanted to video chat or skype and she said she could later when her parents went to bed. I asked when that might be and she said “sometimes early, sometimes late”. I did send her a sext. (I avoided any face or full body shots despite her asking me a couple times to show more. She did ask at least twice to show her more, full body, face and such but I didn’t). Goes without saying I didn’t want to risk showing my face on a sext. I didn’t say anything else to her that night but woke up the next morning to a few more nudes from her. I replied around 9:30am and said something like hey sorry I crashed out, you look sexy. I did not receive a response.
On that same day that I replied to her (April 9th), I received a call like I talked about in my opening sentence at around 1:30 that afternoon. The call came from 571-261-6706 (Haymarket, VA area code) and he said his name was Daniel (sounded like a black guy but well spoken) and that he was a PI. He had been contacted by concerned parents of a girl named Amber Davis. He asked if that rang a bell? I decided to play dumb and said no. He then read off my phone number and stated specific things that were said in the texts and mentioned my genital photo. At this point in my mind I was thinking “oh god I’m screwed.” I still decided to try and play dumb and said that’s crazy, maybe my number got used in a spoof or something. He then started turning up the heat. He started mentioning the laws I had violated, prison time, etc. He said that he had all the evidence in his office from the parents and that he was prepared to hand over the materials to his Lieutenant (looking back I think he got his fake roles mixed up, having read that normally a “detective” or “sergeant” calls, I think he slipped but I didn’t catch it) and they would submit an affidavit on behalf of the parents. Now I’m getting very scared and I think he knew it as he then says here’s what I can do… The father doesn’t want to deal with the courts or the police as this incident has really embarrassed him and his family. If you are willing to take a call from him he might be willing to just work something out with you and this all go away. [TDS NOTE: This scare tactic, followed by “the father wants to work it out to avoid courts/embarrassment/trauma to daughter is standard MO for this scam!] I then gulped and reluctantly said yes, I would take the call. He then said ok, stay by your device, he will call you shortly. It seemed like the call from the father took forever to come in, I think it was like 20 minutes before he called.
The call from the father finally came in at 1:59pm and went on for about 34 minutes from a Gaffney, SC number 864-300-0029. Amber’s number was also 864 area code but I never saved it to my phone and don’t recall if hers was the same or different than the father’s. The man said he was Mr. Davis and the father of Amber Davis. Right away I had three issues with the “father” in terms of understanding him. He sounded Hispanic and had an accent that was hard to understand, the quality of the call was terrible, like it was coming from a payphone or a cell phone that had a bad signal as it would cut in and out, and lastly there was a clicking sound and pauses every so often. Other things I noticed from other stories on your website is he called me “son” a lot, I was actually very surprised when he first started saying it and it oddly calmed me a little (I guess that’s the point, to make you feel like he’s on your side.) He also mentioned the classic “my wife wants to press charges but I don’t want to do any of that” bit. He talked on and on, sometimes lecturing, like why were you thinking with your c*ck instead of your head, sometimes letting me talk. I did mention that I was deceived that her profile said she was over 18 and he acknowledged that she led me on but that when I learned she was 17 why did I keep talking (fair point actually). He also seemed very religious, mentioned God and his church a lot later on in the call, but finally he got down to business and said that I had to convince his wife “Helen” to not press charges and that if I convinced her then he would basically let me off with a warning, so to speak. I said ok I’ll talk to Helen. He then supposedly put me on “speaker” phone and said ok go ahead. I said Helen are you there, hi ma’am, can you hear me? I heard no female voice or response other than Mr. Davis saying yes she can hear you, go ahead. So I talked and did my best to apologize and explain myself, etc. At this point I’m still thinking this is all real.
After I finished Mr. Davis takes the phone back and then he gets down to business and the scam/money portion begins. He says “ok here’s what I’m going to do, I think you convinced my wife but there’s one more thing about this. Amber is gone, tonight or tomorrow, I’m putting her in a facility.” The way he described it was like it was a youth ranch or troubled girl’s home type place. I think he said he knew about it through his church. He then went down this argument that if he pressed charges and this went to court, at the end of it all when I was prosecuted the judge would sign a voucher to enable free-of-charge treatment for his daughter. He also talked about how last summer his daughter did something like this and he said if they caught her again they would send her away. But he said “I don’t want to go through all that again, going through the courts and such takes too long and I want her gone now, I’m not even giving her enough time to pack a toothbrush” (I wish I could have recorded all this.) At that moment my instinct finally kicked in and I became suspicious. He said the value of that voucher signed by the court would be $2200 and that was how much the treatment was. He then said I’m not paying a dime out of my pocket for any of this so here’s what we need to do. This can all go away as soon as Amber is admitted to the treatment, but I’m not paying for it, he said. The facility is only open Mon-Fri until like 5pm, and they require the full amount upfront to cover all the expenses of her stay. If you pay for the treatment then you and I will be good and this will be over. Now that I was fully suspicious, I started stalling him. I said I don’t have the money. He tried a couple more tactics, mentioned that he asked his preacher to help cover the cost but wouldn’t hear from him for a day or two and he wanted her in the treatment that day (conveniently called me 3 hours before the “facility” closes). I told him again I wanted to help but couldn’t come up with $2000, said I just paid my bills for the month this week and was depleted. He then said ok what can you do, seeming like he might want to negotiate, so I said I could make payments. He then replied with “no, full cost has to be paid upfront.” I again said I didn’t have the money. It then sounded like I heard papers being shuffled and then he comes back with “ok, so as we’ve been talking I looked back over the paperwork…” (I’m thinking…All in one morning he finds Amber’s phone, contacts a PI and shares all info, PI knows all about me, including my last name, talks to his preacher, and gets paperwork from the treatment facility in the span of about 4 hours or so? No way!). He says the paperwork actually says only $750 is due upfront and that the rest can be paid over 10 business days. (Funny how he conveniently he finds that when I stall at the $2000) and then he tells me that, including the weekend, I basically have 2 weeks to come up with the remaining $1475. I said ok that’s fine but I don’t have $750 either. But I was curious and so I asked how I would pay the admission fee to the facility. He said there were three methods of payment, either PayPal, CashApp, and the third one I had a hard time understanding but he said it was some kind of bank-to-bank transfer. We went in circles for maybe another minute and then the conversation cut off. Not really like he had hung up, but more like when you are on a land line phone and you’re talking and someone just unplugs the phone cord if that makes sense, like I could tell he was trying to continue talking but was cut off.
At this point I knew he was trying to extort money from me and this was likely a scam and I was not going to call him back. I also didn’t believe the PI but I was curious, so I called the PI number back. I got his voicemail (very professional and talks about that if you have an emergency to hang up and dial 9-1-1. How thoughtful.) I called the number again and this time, after a few rings, he answered. He asked how the call went and I said it was fine. He said he was aware that the father wanted me to pay for the daughter’s treatment and that if I held up my end everything would go away. He then also oddly said that if for some reason this went to court (implying that if I got arrested) that, with a subpoena, he would take the stand and verify on my behalf that I had negotiated in good faith. I thought that was very odd for him to say. By this point I was annoyed and shaken by all this so I started firing off questions. I asked his full name, he said Daniel James. I asked for the name of his PI business. He said they try and stay anonymous and mostly handle internet/online things. I said ok if you can’t be found then how did Mr. Davis find you. I think that caught him off-guard and he then said “ok well my company is Ward Private Investigations” but he sounded unconfident when he said it. I said ok and where is that located so I can potentially meet you face-to-face to discuss all this. He said the home office was based in Baltimore, MD but they had people working in different places. The phone call then got cut off, I assume at this point he figured I was on to the scam and he decided to cut his losses. I did Google that PI firm and there is, in fact, a Ward Investigations in Annapolis, MD, but not specifically Baltimore (https://www.wardinvestigations.com/private-investigator-maryland-about-us/)
I visited the website and there’s no “Daniel James” listed. They appear to mostly, or only handle cheating spouse type work but I also did not dare contact them to confirm this. I didn’t want to go down a rabbit hole with an actual PI.
Sorry to be so long winded, I wanted to include every detail as these scammers are pretty sharp about how they run this scam and are very convincing. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. Their scheme is thought out pretty well, rehearsed, and coordinated between at least two parties. I am curious how they set up a profile in an area where the victim lives and also the sharing their location via text with a third party app. I do believe, in this case, Mr. Davis and the PI Daniel James are not the same person. It was eating me up all evening and I still wasn’t convinced 100% if it was a scam or not. I blocked my number and called Mr. Davis back and to my surprise it rang and eventually got a voice mailbox that simply said “Michael Davis” in a very clear and easily understood voice but different than the PI. I still could get a hint of the accent but not as much as when we talked. I blocked my number again and called the PI one more time and got the voicemail again. I blocked both their numbers and as of the writing of this email nearly 24 hours later I have not received any other calls or forms of contact. I deactivated my Facebook account and locked down my other social media accounts. I contemplated talking to a lawyer but decided to wait it out today to see if they contact me again. Waiting is the hardest part and this is all very stressful. I want to call the numbers again but I know I shouldn’t. Assuming the numbers are still active, this might agitate them and who knows what they may do and they may assume it’s me trying to call, so I won’t.
Things I noticed about this experience that are consistent with other stories I read on your site:
- girl’s age was very young on the dating app (18 maybe I don’t remember exactly)
- long time passed between messages and later on texts or they would come rapid fire like she only had a short amount of time, usually in the evening
- girl was fine to text me even though it was a day or two later from when I gave her my number
- girl didn’t really put up a fight to send nudes and when she did send them they were very forward, not like you would expect from a “shy teenager”
- contacted first by someone on parent’s behalf (PI/investigator/detective, etc)
- PI had professional demeanor and professional voicemail (saw that in a couple of the stories on your site) and he knew my last name (probably found me on Facebook) [TDS NOTE: We believe these criminals pay for services that allow users to look up the owner’s names when they enter a phone number.]
- father and girl’s numbers were SC numbers which seems to be a trend, girl’s dating app profile did say that she lived in Virginia, which is where I’m located [TDS NOTE: The criminals almost ALWAYS make it seem that the girl lives near the victim, even though the phone number may be from another state’s area code.]
- father was very composed (some of the stories and recordings it seems like this is 50/50, either they are very mad or really not mad at all)
- called me son like every sentence
- said I was really dealing with the “mother” and that if up to him he would drop all this now [TDS NOTE: This is part of the “good cop, bad cop” ploy they probably have learned as criminals.]
- wanted to send daughter to treatment, wanted me to pay
- call from the father was very hard to understand
- last name Davis seems to show up in some of the stories, I think I saw one where the father’s first name was Michael and the daughter’s name was Amber but different last names, so they likely recycle first and last names. PI’s name of Daniel James I think is another name combo that’s shown up in some of the stories.
Some new tactics about these criminals:
- sharing their GPS location, I’m assuming they did this to make it seem real and make you feel more comfortable that the girl is real and local (I’m assuming the scammer was using a fake GPS app and knew my general locale based on my listed city on my dating app profile, probably also how they set the PI’s phone number to appear local-ish)
- unlike most of the stories, this guy wanted PayPal or CashApp, although a couple of the stories on your site do mention PayPal or CashApp but it seems less common. My guess is the Walmart card method or the other similar methods are potentially too obvious that it’s a scam, using PayPal sounds more legit than some kind of moneygram method or Western Union.