Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Victoria, BC- Detectives with our Investigative Services Division’s Major Crime Unit are warning the public after a series of incidents of email-based “sextortion” scams have been reported.

In these scam attempts, fraudsters send the victim an email. In that email the fraudsters include a password that the victim has used in the past. The fraudsters claim to have surreptitiously captured a video recording of the victim viewing pornography. The fraudsters then threaten to send the video to the victim’s contacts if the victim does not make a payment. Police departments in our region and on the lower Mainland, including Sidney/North Saanich RCMP and West Vancouver Police have also recently issued similar warnings about similar incidents.

Investigation has shown that these fraudsters are utilizing lists of email addresses and passwords stolen through data breaches that resulted from the hacking of online accounts belonging to third parties. Several high-profile data breaches over the last few years have resulted in hundreds of millions of email addresses and passwords being stolen by hackers. These lists are then posted online, where they are accessed by fraudsters who simply email the potential victim with his or her password to give an air of legitimacy to the fraud attempt. Some potential victims, while they did not fall prey to the original attempt, have become convinced that their individual computers have been compromised and have engaged in costly, unneeded security fixes.

Investigators have not substantiated the existence of a video in any of these incidents. 

At least seven reports have been made to our investigators over the last few days.

The best weapon to protect yourself against online fraud is educating yourself and those around you. Knowing what to look for – in this case fraudsters using a familiar passwords to convince you the fraud is real – can be a way to protect yourself. Changing passwords on a regular basis is a powerful way to help protect yourself online.

For more information about fighting fraud please visit vicpd.ca/fraud.

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