OPP February Fraud Friday (Cyber-Extortion Scam)

The cyberextortion scam is active in Grenville County. In this scam, a threatening email will be sent to the victim, requesting ransom money for compromising pictures or videos. The victim will receive information that their computer has been hacked and the scammer has gained  control of the webcam and have recorded a video of the victim watching pornography, or that the IP address of their computer was used to observe child abuse or terrorism sites. The scammer will threaten to send the videos to the victim’s social media contact list. In actuality, the scammer does not possess the videos and the public is encouraged to not pay any money, but rather, to report the incident to the police.

Locally, on February 18, 2019, a 35 year old Prescott male resident reported that he had received an email on his Hotmail account. This email threatened to send out pictures of him watching pornography to everyone on his contact list.  The victim immediately recognized that the email was a scam, but became more concerned when he noticed that the scammer had his current password information. Rather than respond to the suspicious email, the victim reported the incident to the OPP. The victim was advised to change his current passwords and email account address. It can be startling to see an email with your password in it from someone threatening you. There are numerous ways a scammer may have gotten a hold of a password, such as data breaches or hacking.  Fortunately, in this incident, the victim recognized the signs of current scam and therefore did not experience a financial loss.

How to protect yourself:

– Do not pay ransom requests.

– Change your password immediately, if your password was mentioned in the ransom message.

– Beware of pop-up messages with a ransom request and do not click on any attachment links.

– Be wary of free downloads or website access, such as music, games, movies and adult sites. These sites may install harmful programs onto your devise, without you knowing.

– Report the incident to the Police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.