Understanding fake sextortion email scams – Netsafe – Providing free online safety advice in New Zealand

netsafe has received numerous reports of an email scam in which the scammer falsely claims to have hacked into your device and made intimate recordings of people using pornographic websites. the email threatens to deliver the video to their personal contacts unless the person pays them a sum of money. In some versions of this scam, the subject line of the scam email also includes the target’s password that they use (or have used in the past) for their online accounts.

The good news is that even if the scammer has collected a password for your online accounts, it is highly unlikely that they could have used it to access your computer content, webcam, or browsing history. the scammer tries to scare victims into making a payment.

how the scam works

People receive an email claiming that their computer has been hacked and that the scammer has obtained intimate recordings of them, for example, by using a porn site. some versions of the scam include the person’s password for an online account or may appear to be sent from the person’s own email address.

The scammer claims to have access to the person’s contact list and threatens to send the images to the person’s contacts unless a payment (often as bitcoin) is made.

We have received thousands of reports of this scam in new zealand and we are not aware of any cases where there has been evidence of recordings or where recordings have been released. Even if the scammer obtained a password for your online accounts, it is highly unlikely that he could have used it to access your computer content, webcam, or browsing history.

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what to do if you have been affected

  • do not reply or send any payment to the scammer
  • immediately change your password on any online account you think may have been compromised. the website “Have I been pwned?” allows you to check if your email address is listed as being affected by one of the large data breaches included in their database. if your email address is on the list, be sure to update your password on any of the affected sites
  • delete the scam email and mark it as spam for your email filter to remove it
  • Use different password variations for each online account. this step should protect you in the future because if one account is breached, no other accounts should be affected

if you have given money or other details to the scammer

If you have shared any bank account information, please report the incident to your bank. If you’ve sent money with your credit card, talk to your bank to request a chargeback. If you have sent money through an online money transfer platform (such as bitcoin), the transaction may not be traceable and you may not be able to get your money back.

If you have lost money to this scam, you can report it using our online reporting form.

If you responded to the email with sensitive personal information, this identity theft checklist may help. If you think you may have been exposed to identity theft, contact idcare for free help and support.

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how did you get my password?

If the scammer has obtained your password, it was likely collected in a data leak from one of the major online servers.

Is my email address compromised?

Versions of the scam that are presented as being sent from the person’s own email address appear to be “spoofed” (appearing as if they came from the victim’s email address when in fact they were sent from the victim’s email address). scammer’s email address). it is unlikely that your account has been compromised, however it is a good idea to update your password to be safe.

If you’ve been involved in an intimate conversation online where you think you may have been filmed and are now threatening to publish the footage, visit our sextortion page for more advice.

report a scam

If you have lost money or personal information or think you are about to, please contact us by sending an email to [email protected] or by completing an online report form.

Our helpline is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. m. to 8 p.m. m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. m. to 5 p.m. m. on weekends.

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