‘Sextortion’ hacker scam warning after Medway fraud reports

safety warning

Cybercrime detectives are advising people not to be tricked into paying by hacker scam, who claim to have evidence of them watching online pornography.

Nationally more than 100 reports of the so-called ‘sextortion’ hacker scam have been made to Action Fraud and since 12 July Kent Police has received reports from across the county, including the Medway TownsAshfordCanterbury and Thanet.

Victims have received an email in which their own password is included in the subject line. They are then informed that the hacker has video evidence of them visiting a pornographic website, and that the footage will be sent to their friends and family unless they pay them thousands of pounds’ worth of online currency.

Data breaches

The usernames and passwords used in the scam have been obtained from historic data breaches of popular websites, which are then inserted into an email template and sent to large number of individuals in the hope that some will respond to the demands made.

Such breaches often include the details of millions of people who are often unaware their details have even been compromised.

Detective Constable Mark Agnew of Kent Police’s Cybercrime Unit said:

‘The people responsible for these scams email large numbers of people at a time, including those who do not visit pornographic websites. It is therefore doubtful they have the evidence they claim they have.

‘It is however understandable that some people will be concerned about receiving this type of email, but paying only highlights that you are vulnerable and can be targeted again.

‘The internet is an incredible resource but comes with its own set of unique dangers that we all need to be aware of. By following just a few simple measures we can protect ourselves from those who misuse technology in order to benefit from the misery of others.’

Top tips

•    If you receive a threatening email, do not be rushed or pressured into making a decision.

•    Change your password immediately and reset it on any other accounts you have used the same one for. Always use a strong and separate password. Whenever possible, enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) to add another layer of security.

•    Do not email the fraudsters back.

•    Always update your anti-virus software and operating systems regularly.

•    Cover your webcam when it is not in use.

•    Use the tool haveibeenpwned.com to identify if any of your accounts have been compromised due to data breaches of companies or services that you use.

•    Report any incidents to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040.


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