Australians are urged to ignore emails that claim to possess nude images or videos of them as tech watchdogs intercept a spike in “sextortion” scams.
The emails are sent from an unknown address, and claim to be in possession of pornographic materials gained from taking control over the recipient’s webcam.
To stop the release of the material, the scammers demand payment of Bitcoins into a digital wallet provided in the email.
“Trust me, I have no point to continue creating troubles in your life. If I really wanted that, I would do it long time ago,” the email reads.
“Don’t try to find me – it is absolutely pointless. All the cryptocurrency transactions are anonymous.”
The ACCC’s Scamwatch reassured recipients of the email that the claims of possessing pornographic material are simply untrue.
“Scammers are claiming to have intimate videos or photos of you and are threatening to share them online unless you pay them in bitcoin,” Scamwatch warns.
“These images don’t actually exist so don’t respond and just delete the email.”
Scamwatch advises that if a recipient has sent money or banking details to a scammer, it may not be too late to recoup their losses.
“If you’ve sent money or shared your banking details with a scammer, contact your financial institution immediately,” Scamwatch advises.
“They may be able to stop a transaction, or close your account if the scammer has your account details.
“Your credit card provider may be able to perform a ‘charge back’ (reverse the transaction) if your credit card was billed fraudulently.”
Marek Beno, Malware Analyst at Avast, said the scams can have huge consequences on the mental health of their recipients.
“Sextortion scams are dangerous and unsettling, and can even have tragic consequences resulting in the suicide of affected users. During the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminals likely see a strong opportunity for success as people spend more time on Zoom and in front of their computer overall,” Mr Beno said.
“As scary as such emails may sound, we urge people to stay calm if they receive such a message in their inbox and ignore it, as it is just a dirty trick that cybercriminals use to try to get your money.”