Surrey Mounties are reporting a spike in “sextortion” complaints over the past week. This is when someone threatens to send a sexual photo of a person to others if the victim doesn’t pay them or provide more sexual content.
Corporal Joanie Sidhu said in the majority of reports, a scammer sends victims an email claiming he or she hacked into their computer and recorded them doing something private.
“The scammer states they will release the video publicly unless they are paid in Bitcoin,” Sidhu noted. “In these cases, there was no proof of photos or videos actually being taken.”
Sidhu said fraudsters “often cite a password which the victim is currently using, or has previously used, as proof of the hack. These passwords have likely been obtained in a previous data breach not as a result of the computer being hacked. The public is urged not to respond to these emails or to send any money.”
Some reports received by the Surrey RCMP involved people who “willingly sent nude or explicit photos to people they know, or met online. The photos were later used in an effort to extort money from the victims.”
Staff Sergeant Lyndsay O’Ruairc offers this advice.
“It’s never a good idea to share intimate photos of yourself online – even if it’s with a person you trust,” O’Ruairc said. “Sharing intimate photos leaves you vulnerable to being exploited.”
To avoid fallen victim to this crime, police recommend people disable their webcam or any other camera connected to the internet when they aren’t using it, create complex and difficult-to-guess passwords and change them frequently, and not to send intimate photos to anyone.