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“Sex-tortion” Phishing Scam Uses Hacked Passwords to Defraud Victims

The BBB Scam Tracker has been receiving increased reports of sextortion phishing scams, but with a new twist. Now scammers are threatening to access the victim’s accounts using old, hacked passwords to share videos of them watching or downloading inappropriate videos. The scammer is using the threat of “revenge porn” to scare the victim into providing either payment in the form of Bitcoin, access to personal information that can result in identity theft or access to their computer to download malware to steal passwords and all personal and financial information stored on the computer.

This phishing scam can happen to anyone who’s accounts have ever been hacked. The scammer will propose two options: to pay the specified amount in Bitcoin to make the videos disappear or ignore the email which will result in the release of the inappropriate videos. Although the threat of exposure is frightening, there have been no reports of videos being sent due to lack of payment. The email is a scare tactic with the scammer not following through because no such videos exist.

Consider the following to protect yourself from a phishing attempt:

  • Do not send money. Often, scammers want payment in the form of Bitcoin which is extremely hard to trace, therefore making it almost impossible to get your money back.
  • Conduct a security check on your computer. If you do not have any security software on your computer, consider downloading a program that can keep you safe from malware.
  • Change your passwords immediately. If the scammer has access to an old password that you have used for other accounts, they can easily hack into additional accounts and continue to threaten you.
  • Do not respond. The scammer wants to know the threat has gotten your attention. Once you have confirmed this, it will be difficult to get them to stop contacting you with additional threats.
  • Do not open links or attachments. These contract malware that will infiltrate your computer and give the scammer all your personal information, financial information and passwords.
  • Turn off electronic devices and web cameras. If you are not actively using your computer or tablet, turn it off. When you are using them, be sure to cover the web camera if you are not using it.
  • Disable of limit access. You can go into your computer’s settings and disable or limit access by other devices to your web camera.

Source: BBB.org

If you have been a victim of this scam, the Federal Trade Commission has advice on what to do next. Information on revenge porn laws can be found here.

If you would like to report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.