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COVID-19: Alert Issued For Scam Involving Blackmail Threat Over Release Of Private Video

Law enforcement agencies are warning about a new computer scam.
Law enforcement agencies are warning about a new computer scam. Photo Credit: Putnam County Sheriff's Office

With more and more people working from home during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, law enforcement agencies are warning of a new online blackmailing scheme.

There have been reports of a new scam that involves an email from a scammer to a victim claiming that they are in possession of recorded webcam footage of the victim watching pornography.

According to police, the scammer implies that he has malware/remote access to a victim’s computer to record video. The suspect then threatens to share the alleged footage with the victim’s Facebook friends and family unless the victim pays the suspect in the form of bitcoin payment.

In the scam, the suspect often provides the victim with a valid, yet often outdated, password to prove that they had access to the victim’s computer. However, the password was likely obtained from an old data breach already on the dark web.

To avoid becoming a victim, one should:

  • Not send any payment;
  • Not click any links provided in the email;
  • Change the password for services or websites that use the password mentioned by the scammer;
  • File a report with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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