Sextortion porn scam rolling through Vail Valley inboxes | VailDaily.com

Sextortion porn scam rolling through Vail Valley inboxes

It’s likely not real, says law enforcement and tech experts

“They’re trying to frighten people. Scammers will use anything to try to extort money from people,” said Jessie Mosher with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
Unsplash photo

Reports of an email porn scam are among the many that the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office is fielding.

Along with email, scammers still use the telephone, said Amber Barrett, a public information officer with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

One of the scammers’ more popular ploys is a phone caller claiming they work for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, or a family member’s arrest. The scammer then claims you’ll be arrested if you don’t immediately pay a fine.

The calls appear to come from legitimate phone numbers, but are not, Barrett said. Technology is being used to spoof caller ID systems and mimic the main phone number of the Sheriff’s office, 970-328-8500, or a local cell phone number.

“When you send money to people you do not know personally or give personal or financial information to unknown callers, you significantly increase your chances of becoming a victim,” Barrett said.

Sextortion scam hits home

Eagle County residents should also be on the lookout for an insidious cyber lie in their email inboxes.

Here’s how the scam works: An email claims that your computer’s webcam recorded you when you allegedly watched porn and that you downloaded a virus. The email also claims that it has captured your contact list.

Scammers threaten to send the video to your entire contact list unless you pay a Bitcoin ransom, usually between $300 to $3,000.

The scam started late last year in Australia and the Middle East, and it’s now sweeping across the U.S., according to tech trade publications.

“They’re trying to frighten people. Scammers will use anything to try to extort money from people,” said Jessie Mosher with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. “Never give out personal information and never click on an attachment unless it’s from someone you’re familiar with.”

Chances are you have not been hacked, tech experts say. On the other hand, you should be careful. A BBC investigation uncovered an industry that sells access to hacked webcams.

“Yes, your Mac’s camera can be hacked, but in the case of the porn blackmail scam, we have no indication that the threat is real. The video the scammer’s claim to have of you is not real. It doesn’t exist,” says Intego’s Mac Security Blog. “This is a scam designed to scare you into sending the criminal money.”

In this scam, the email is not addressed to you by name. It’s an email that the scammers probably obtained through a data breach. Chances are they sent you no screen shot, or any other details that might lead you to believe this is real, Intego says.

“If they wanted to really scare you into paying a ransom, wouldn’t they show you a compromising screenshot or other proof that their threat is in fact real?” Intego asks.

Dos and don’ts

  • Do: Ignore and delete the emails.
  • Do: Scan your computer for malware and ransomeware.
  • Do: Update your password.
  • Don’t: Don’t pay the ransom.

If you have information about scams or other crimes, call the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office at 970-328-8500 or Eagle County Crime Stoppers at 970-328-7007, 1-800-972-TIPS, submit your tip online at http://www.tipsubmit.com, or text a tip from your cell phone by texting STOPCRIME plus your message to CRIMES (274637).

You could earn up to a $1,000 reward from the Crime Stoppers.