What the Tech: sextortion scams

Local News

A frightening scam is making the rounds again. One where a hacker threatens to share embarrassing photos and videos unless the victim pays a $1,000 ransom.

Sextortion email scams are growing in number because they’re successful in tricking people into sending money without reporting the scam to the police. Here’s how it works:

The victim receives an email which appears to have been sent from their own email account. The sender introduces themselves as a hacker and notifies the victim their account and computer were infected with malware.

The blackmailer says he or she installed the malware while the victim was visiting an adult website that hosts pornographic videos. The hacker says the malware also gave them access to the victim’s web camera and that they’ve been secretly recording video every time the victim visited the adult website.

The hacker claims to have created a video file of the victim watching porn and will send the video to their contact list including Facebook friends, co-workers and family members. The email includes the hacker’s bitcoin wallet address and advises the victim they have two days to deposit $1,000 in bitcoin.

The blackmail sextortion scam is often successful because the victim has indeed visited an adult website and does not want to risk being humiliated. Victims often make arrangements quickly, hoping to keep a video from surfacing.

It is a scam and no video actually exists. The email itself is usually a jpeg or photo file sent from the recipient’s email account through spoofing. If you receive the email do not send the hacker money and delete the email. Do not mark it as spam since it comes from your email address.

And change your password. Hackers are using emails and passwords that were involved in one of many data purges from the past several years. That data is now available on the Dark Web which is likely where a hacker got your information.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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