‘Sextortion’ emails on the rise in the valley: FBI, BBB issues warning not to fall for it

Local News

FRESNO, California (KGPE) – The FBI is warning the public about “sextortion” emails from scammers trying to blackmail people into giving them money.

Sextortion emails typically include threats to reveal images or video of the victim watching or utilizing pornography, copies of their browser history or evidence that they downloaded videos from websites.

How the scam works:

The scammer will contact a large volume of people claiming their computers have been hacked, along with their webcam.

The scammer threatens to share the video or pictures to the victim’s contacts, family, friends and even coworkers if a payment is not made.

Generally, the threat is likely an empty one. However the Better Business Bureau Serving Central California and Inland Empire Counties have seen an increase of victims from the valley.

Experts say the victims are specifically targeted because their data was compromised in a major security breach some time ago, which exposed details for billions of users.

Hackers are getting bolder and smarter and because of this, everyone is at risk of getting a sextortion email.

Red Flags:

The scammer does not provide any details about what site you supposedly visited.

Also the scammer cannot support their threat with any evidence, for example, a compromising screenshot to prove they have the information they claim.

Plus, the scammer requests an urgent ransom be paid in gift cards, bitcoins or wire transfer.

Ways to protect yourself:

  • Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are, or who they say they are.
  • Try searching the web for one or two sentences from the email to confirm it is actually spam.
  • Do not open attachments or click links in emails from people you do not know.
  • Never send money, buy a gift card or do anything to comply with the demands in the email.
  • Do a security check on your computer and install security software.
  • Enable two fact authentication on your important accounts and change your passwords immediately.
  • To give you peace of mind, keep your web cam covered when you are not using it.

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