'I was chatting to Tinder match - then I was told I had seconds to send £2,000'

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After finding a match, Daragh Fleming was blackmailed - and he has some advice for others in a similar situation
After finding a match, Daragh Fleming was blackmailed - and he has some advice for others in a similar situation

A terrifying man looking for love says he was blackmailed for £2,000 after chatting to a 'girl' for weeks before the scammer threatened to send nudes to his friends and family.

Daragh Fleming fell victim after fraudster posed as a female singleton on dating site Tinder and convinced him to send intimate images. Things turned sinister when the criminal demanded cash be sent - or his snaps would be forwarded to his mother and pals.

The man, from Cork, Ireland, opened up on "easily one of the most stressful days of my entire life" after falling victim to an "utter catfish fraud". The mental health author shared his story to support the thousands of other people who have been victims of similar crimes.

Daragh was messaged by a crook who was posing as a Cork woman named 'Tracy.' But he soon found out that he had been duped as the con artist started making threats to expose him. He said "It was a really tough day but I think it's important to make this issue known to people so they can be on the lookout for it.

"This wasn't a generic email scam, it was much more targeted than that. It was far more invasive. For a couple of weeks, I was chatting to what I thought was a local woman on a dating app. We were chatting and that was fine and then after a couple of weeks she suggested that we move to Snapchat, which isn't unusual - it wouldn't be my first port of call, but it's not unusual."

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He told The 96FM Opinion Line that after a few days of messaging back and forth, things took a turn for the worst and 'Tracy' threatened to send his photographs to his family and friends unless Daragh sent money. The criminal immediately "sent screenshots of the few pictures I'd sent, plus pictures of my social media, photos of my family's profiles,

He went on: "They said that I had 10 seconds to agree to send money.... it was €2,000 they wanted via Bitcoin. Then my Snapchat started ringing and it was the profile of the girl... and it was actually a man."

The man revealed to Daragh that he was a scammer, based in Nigeria and threatened to send his intimate images to all of Daragh's friends and family. "He started saying I had to download an app to send the money... at that point, I hung up, I blocked him," said Daragh. But the barrage of threatening messages didn't stop there.

"He tried to message me on a burner account on Instagram, I blocked that one. About an hour later, he messaged again and tried to ring on Instagram - said he'd drop the price to €500, said he didn't want to ruin my life and that I should be responsible and pay, so I blocked that account."

Daragh said that "the initial panic was like nothing I've ever experienced. It was terrifying but I thought the best thing to do was to take it into my own hands... I instinctively kind of knew, paying him would be the worst call of action. That's when I put out the tweet yesterday saying 'Look this is happening, I'm being blackmailed, they have pictures of me, those pictures might come out."

"Just to protect my own mental health, because I think what would happen in this situation to someone who's more vulnerable is that they wouldn't be able to talk about it, they'd keep it themselves and have to deal with it on their own. So I talked to my parents, talked to my brother, talked to a few friends - just told them what was going on, how I was feeling.

"Yesterday was incredibly challenging," he said. "The threat of these pictures being sent to my family, but nothing has happened yet, doesn't mean nothing will happen, it could still happen."

Daragh reported the blackmail to the gardaí using -a website dedicated to reporting online abuse. He added: "Unfortunately I don't think anything can be done because the perpetrator disclosed that he's in Nigeria, so I don't think we can do anything.

"But I think it's still very important to report it. It will make the stats more accurate which means the gardai might get more funding to actually do something about these types of cases." He said that intimate image abuse is becoming a "serious and rampant" issue in Ireland with thousands of cases every year that "seemed really genuine and real" but end up being "a complete and utter catfish fraud."

Daragh added that the whole experience was "really really tough on the mental health and said: "Yesterday was easily one of the most stressful days of my entire life. There is an element of shaming that goes on

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"Obviously it's extremely embarrassing. But if I don't talk about it on the bad days I'm not doing my job. I don't have control of the pictures anymore, the only power I have is to get ahead of it."

Daragh took to Twitter yesterday to warn his friends, family and followers what had happened. "I was like 'Look this happening, you all might see my todger at some point over the next few weeks'. The worst thing you can do in those situations is give into them.

"Once you give them the money they're not going to stop asking for money. There's not much I can do, those pictures are out there. it has been a massive learning moment for me, those pictures... it was incredibly stupid, My biggest concern at the moment is that a few people close to me might see my Mickey, and if that's my biggest concern then my life is actually not too bad."

Sam Elliott-Gibbs

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