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Police warning as porn blackmailers target 12 Hertfordshire computer users




A dozen Hertfordshire residents have been victims of online "sextortion" attempts.

According to the county's police force, they received emails claiming to have evidence that they had visited sites featuring adult content.

The scammers claim that they were in control of the victim's internet devices, including cameras, enabling them to record what the victim had been doing online.

Stock image computer scam. (33925137)
Stock image computer scam. (33925137)

The emails also claim that the scammers have copied the contact list from the victim's phone and social media accounts, as well as logged all activity on their devices.

They go on to demand payment in Bitcoin of approximately $2,000 (£1,620), saying that if they do not receive this within 24 hours then the recording will be sent to all the victim's contacts.

As proof of their claims, they provide a password to one of the victim's accounts. The password is usually a genuine one that the victim has used, which convinces them that the claims are real.

Det Insp Rob Burns, from Hertfordshire Constabulary's serious fraud and cyber unit, said: "This can be a very convincing scam as criminals can obtain these personal details which have been acquired as a result of a data breach.

"The fraudsters' claims are false and no such recording exists. The offender will try to use technical terms to confuse and scare the victim. If the password is one the victim recognises then they must change that password on the website it corresponds to and to any other websites that use the same password.

"Action Fraud has received over 9,000 reported cases involving these scam emails. If you receive an email of this kind, never make any payments.

"You can test your email address at haveibeenpwned.com, which will tell you any accounts that have been compromised. You can also sign up for an email service that will tell you if a website that holds your personal data has been compromised. This will allow you to change the password for any websites that use that password. Please note that this is not a police website."

Hertfordshire Constabulary recommends...

  • Create a separate password for your email account,
  • Use a strong password for every website using three random words, turn on two-factor authentication (2FA).
  • Update your devices, turn on backup, never open an attachment from an unexpected email and never click on a link in an email.

For more information, visit www.actionfraud.police.uk/sextortion. If you receive a phishing email of any kind, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. If you are a victim of any fraud, report it to Action Fraud.



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