Sextortion Emails

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email scam

One morning, you check your email and there’s one with a very threatening title.
You open it.
A hacker claims to have recorded an embarrassing video from your webcam without your knowledge!
They claim to have all your contacts too and then it gets scarier. There it is – your old password (or maybe you’re still using it). The threat is to share this video with your contacts unless you send them money in Bitcoin.

This scam, which has many variations, came to my attention in 2018 when several concerned people got in touch about it.

So what should you do?

Firstly, the hacker almost certainly does not have a video of you, nor have they gone to the trouble of breaking into your computer. They may have sent this message out to thousands of people. If they had something compromising, they would have sent you some visual proof.

Do not pay – Do not reply

If you do so your address could end up on a list of people who respond which encourages them to target you again.

Change your password

Make sure that you use different passwords for different services. Use a password manager to remember different high strength passwords for each service you use. You’ll just need a secure master password to access everything.

Install Antivirus software

Even if it’s a Mac. There is good free software available (see my previous article). This can prevent the theoretical possibility that your machine could be taken over, your information stolen, your typing logged or even your webcam or microphone taken over to spy on you.

Investigate

There is a reputable website run by a respected security professional, Troy Hunt, where you can enter your email address and/or your passwords (securely and separately) to see if they have been published anywhere on the “Dark Web”.  This is where cyber-criminals go to buy your information. Visit haveibeenpwned.com to find out.

Report

If you would like to take action to help stop this, Action Fraud has a website where you can report it as a phishing attempt. If you have already replied or paid, you can report it to the police.

Get Help

Call a professional if you need help to be secure online.

Stay safe.

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