More than 9,000 targeted in ‘sextortion’ scam as crooks pretend to ‘take over your webcam’ amid coronavirus lockdown
New figures reveal that crooks have been threatening to reveal intimate images of victims online during the first weeks of the coronavirus lockdown.
It comes as police warn that online fraud is increasing as cyber criminals look to exploit those spending more time at home during the Covid-19 crisis.
As part of the scam, emails are sent to victims demanding thousands of pounds in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
The perpetrators say if the ransom is not paid, they will share the victim’s intimate videos, taken on their webcams while visiting adult websites, with their friends and family.
Action Fraud said it had received 9,473 reports of the scam this month with 200 coming in the last week.
The emails, which contain a genuine password from one of the victim’s accounts, begin: “I require your complete attention for the upcoming 24 hrs, or I may make sure you that you live out of guilt for the rest of your lifetime.”
They falsely claim to have access to a victim’s social media accounts and mobile phone contacts, as well video footage filmed after taking control of their webcams.
The messages read: “I have the full recording. If, perhaps you think I am playing around, simply reply proof and I will be forwarding the particular recording randomly to eight people you know.”
Pauline Smith, the head of Action Fraud, said the “sextortion” scam is a type of “phishing attack”, where fraudsters try to trick people into paying a ransom.
She said: “The messages can look particularly convincing because they often include the recipient’s genuine password.
“The criminals sending these emails are ruthless, unscrupulous individuals who don’t care about the impact of their actions on victims.
“If you receive an email that threatens you, your family, or your property in any way, and asks you to make a Bitcoin payment, don’t take the bait.”
It comes after National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) this week revealed it shut down more than 80 online scams on the first day of its new email reporting service.