Police warning over 'sextortion' scam emails

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(Last Updated On: May 4, 2020)

Police have warned the public to be aware of ‘sextortion’ scam emails where victims are being asked to send a ransom in BitCoins to prevent videos of themselves visiting adult websites being sent to their contacts.

Devon and Cornwall Police explained “Sextortion scam emails attempt to coerce victims to pay a BitCoin ransom to the scammers by threatening to publish videos of the victim visiting adult websites, and state that the scammer has access to all the victims’ social media contacts in order to do this. These emails can be made all the more convincing as the scammers may include one of the victims passwords in the email.”

An example of one of the emails being received by people was shared on Spotted Torquay:

𝙸𝚝 𝚜𝚎𝚎𝚖𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 (your password shown) 𝚒𝚜 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚙𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚠𝚘𝚛𝚍.
𝙸 𝚗𝚎𝚎𝚍 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚙𝚕𝚎𝚝𝚎 𝚊𝚝𝚝𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚒𝚘𝚗 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚗𝚎𝚡𝚝 𝚃𝚠𝚎𝚗𝚝𝚢-𝚏𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚑𝚛𝚜, 𝚘𝚛 𝙸 𝚠𝚒𝚕𝚕 𝚌𝚎𝚛𝚝𝚊𝚒𝚗𝚕𝚢 𝚖𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚎 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚕𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚜𝚑𝚊𝚖𝚎 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚛𝚎𝚜𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚕𝚒𝚏𝚎.
𝙷𝚎𝚢, 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚍𝚘𝚗’𝚝 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚖𝚎. 𝙷𝚘𝚠𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝙸 𝚔𝚗𝚘𝚠 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚊𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛𝚢𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚛𝚎𝚐𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚢𝚘𝚞. 𝚈𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚌𝚞𝚛𝚛𝚎𝚗𝚝 𝚏𝚋 𝚌𝚘𝚗𝚝𝚊𝚌𝚝 𝚕𝚒𝚜𝚝, 𝚙𝚑𝚘𝚗𝚎 𝚌𝚘𝚗𝚝𝚊𝚌𝚝𝚜 𝚊𝚜 𝚠𝚎𝚕𝚕 𝚊𝚜 𝚊𝚕𝚕 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚍𝚒𝚐𝚒𝚝𝚊𝚕 𝚊𝚌𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚒𝚝𝚢 𝚘𝚗 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚙𝚞𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚏𝚛𝚘𝚖 𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚟𝚒𝚘𝚞𝚜 𝟷𝟺𝟽 𝚍𝚊𝚢𝚜.
𝚆𝚑𝚒𝚌𝚑 𝚒𝚗𝚌𝚕𝚞𝚍𝚎𝚜, 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚏 𝚙𝚕𝚎𝚊𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚎 𝚟𝚒𝚍𝚎𝚘 𝚏𝚘𝚘𝚝𝚊𝚐𝚎, 𝚠𝚑𝚒𝚌𝚑 𝚋𝚛𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚖𝚎 𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚖𝚊𝚒𝚗 𝚖𝚘𝚝𝚒𝚟𝚎 𝚠𝚑𝚢 𝙸 ‘𝚖 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚙𝚘𝚜𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚜 𝚙𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚌𝚞𝚕𝚊𝚛 𝚎-𝚖𝚊𝚒𝚕 𝚝𝚘 𝚢𝚘𝚞.

For the full email, click here.

Devon and Cornwall Police have given the following advice:
Convincing as they are, it is not even always the case that the victim has in fact been looking at adult websites. So in order to protect yourself:
Don’t reply to or click on any of the links in the email. Report the email to Action Fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing (assuming that you have not parted with money or personal details).
Don’t make the Bitcoin payment. Doing so may encourage more scams as the fraudster will know they have a ‘willing customer’.
If you have made the Bitcoin payment, or otherwise parted with money, report it to 101@dc.police.uk or https://services.devon-cornwall.police.uk/crimereporting
If the email includes a password you still use, change it immediately. Also consult this website to see what other of your online information may have been compromised by a data breach of a company or organisation that you have been dealing with: www.HaveIBeenPwned.com
For more information, about how to protect yourself from sextortion scams (remember, you don’t actually need to have been looking at adult material, but the scam emails are nonetheless convincing and threatening) read advice from the National Cyber Security Centre https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/sextortion-scams-how-to-protect-yourself and Action Fraud https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/alert-cyber-criminals-send-victims-their-own-passwords-in-new-sextortion-scam

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