9 August 2019

‘Sextortion’ email scam hits Canberra

| Lachlan Roberts
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Screenshots revealed by NSW Police showing an elaborate cyber-scam to extort money from victims. Images: NSW Police.

Screenshots from NSW Police showing an elaborate cyber-scam to extort money from victims. Images: NSW Police.

Canberrans are being warned not to respond to a ‘sextortion’ email that claims to know your password and threatens to release compromising footage unless they are paid.

The email claims to have hacked your webcam and record footage of the recipient “satisfying” themselves. The email may claim to know your password, which in some cases is a correct password.

“My malware gave me full access to all your accounts, full control over your computer and it also was possible to spy on you over your webcam,” the email reads. “I collected all your private data and I recorded you through your webcam satisfying yourself.

“I can publish the video of you and all your private data on the whole web, social networks, over email to all contacts and send to your friends.

“You can stop me and only I can help you out in this situation. Transfer exactly $800 in bitcoin. You got two days time to pay. It is a very good offer, compared to all that horrible s*** that will happen if I publish everything.

“After receiving payment, I will remove everything and you can live your life in peace like before. Next time update your browser before browsing the web,” the scam reads.

An Australian Cyber Security Centre spokesperson said in most cases, there is no reason to be concerned if you receive this email.

“These emails are typically generated in their thousands by online scammers using limited personal details that they are able to collect from the internet,” the spokesperson said.

“If the email includes a password which you recognise, then you should change all accounts which use this password. Make sure to use a strong password and don’t reuse passwords across different accounts.

“Sextortion is a form of online blackmail where a perpetrator threatens to reveal intimate images of someone online, often to their friends and family, unless they pay a ransom. Typically, the scammers have no compromising information.

“The ACSC would like to remind Australians to not make payments and cease all contact with the scammers.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch has received 3,500 reports of sextortion scams in the first six months this year, with 13 people sending money to the scammers. An ACCC spokesperson said a total of $155,000 has been lost to the scam this year.

The spokesperson said passwords could possibly be found in a bulk download from the dark web.

Further information on securing your online accounts can be found in the ACSC’s Easy Steps Guide. To report a cybersecurity incident to police, click here.

If you feel you may have been targeted by a scam, or have any information that could assist police, please go to your local police station, or contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website.

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