‘Sextortion’ emails on the rise, targeting Canadians who may or may not visit porn sites

The scam targets people who may or may not have visited pornographic sites

A modern-age type of scam called “sextortion emails” is on the rise in Canada, prompting the Better Business Bureau to issue a warning.

Sextortion scams are when a scammer sends an email to their intended victim threatening to reveal images and videos of them watching or utilizing pornography, with evidence in the form of browser history records, unless they give the scammer money.

The scam targets people who may or may not have visited pornographic sites, claiming they have hacked their computer and activated their webcam. They may claim that they have been able to access all the porn sites the victim has visited.

The scammer then threatens to send embarrassing images, videos and screenshots to stolen contacts, family, friends and co-workers if a payment is not made – often in the form of crypto-currency like bitcoin .

ALSO READ: Online ‘sextortion’ cases involving teen boys spiking: experts

Although the blackmail is likely an empty threat, victims are demanded to pay hundreds if not thousands, the Better Business Bureau said in a news release Wednesday. In some cases, the scammer may in fact have a person’s legitimate username and password, due to security breaches that have happened in the past.

In those situations, the scammer may have an email, telephone number and at least one password, and will refer to it in the email.

In one case, a Burnaby senior contacted the bureau using its Scam Tracker system and said that “a scammer obtained my password and demanded to be paid almost $1,700 in bitcoin, otherwise, he would send porno pictures of me to my friends.”

Karla Davis, manager for public relations with the bureau, said this is one example of hackers getting bolder and smarter with their scams.

ALSO READ: B.C. man charged with sexual exploitation ‘has a long way to go to not reoffend’

“Unfortunately, threatening the release of embarrassing footage that could negatively impact one’s personal and professional reputation, can trigger the need for self preservation, even if it comes at a cost of hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” Davis said.

“Scammers will happily play on a person’s emotions to trick them out of their money, and this is why it is important that you assess the situation and not just give your money away in a panic.”

The BBB has released these tips to ensure you’re protected from sextortion scams:

  1. Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are—or who they say they are.
  2. Try searching the web for one or two sentences from the email to confirm it is actually spam.
  3. No matter what the email threatens, do not respond. Also delete the email.
  4. Do not open attachments or click links in emails from people you do not know. Doing so could lead you to a fake website designed to trick you into giving up personal information or you may download malware to your computer or mobile device.
  5. Never send money, buy a gift card or do anything to comply with the demands in the email.
  6. Do a security check on your computer and install security software.
  7. Enable two-factor authentication on your important accounts.
  8. Change passwords often and consider getting a password manager to ensure your passwords are strong and unique. Avoid using ‘password’, ‘Password123’, ‘12345’, and other most commonly used passwords.
  9. To give you peace of mind, keep webcams covered when you are not using them.

To check if your email has been compromised in a security breach, click here.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

3 break-ins, copper pipe stolen from vacant Fruitvale school

Village planning future use of the site, including teardown of the old school

Kootenay cold snap ups energy consumption as high as 75 per cent

On Jan. 14, natural gas use rose 50 per cent compared to the previous Tuesday

Introducing 2020 Colombo Lodge executives

Executives were sworn in at an the installation ceremonies earlier this month

Rossland French immersions school to offer high school courses

Expansion decision means students can continue in French to Grade 9

Rossland Council updated on cost of fixing arena

It will cost $700,000+ to get job done

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Most Read