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Sextortion scams on the rise

By David G Scott

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POLICE Scotland is asking the public to be aware of an email scam circulating in which fraudsters threaten to publish online footage of victims.

The scam involves emails being sent out in which the criminal claims to have video footage of the recipient watching pornography.

The criminal then demands payment in bitcoin, threatening that failure to do so will result in the video being published – a crime known as sextortion.

Police Scotland is asking the public to be aware of the latest online scam.
Police Scotland is asking the public to be aware of the latest online scam.

Sixteen reports were made to Police Scotland overnight on April 9 – with the latest number rising to 96 by April 14.

The reports have been from people across every police division in Scotland and reveal that crooks were increasingly active during the first weeks of the coronavirus lockdown.

Detective Inspector Michael McCullagh, of cybercrime investigations, said: "These types of scams aren't unusual. However, this particular suspect or group has used a similar method and wording in every email and in greater numbers than we normally see.

"The emails show current or legacy passwords belonging to the victim, making the threat seem credible. This is a tactic used by criminals to alarm potential victims.

"Awareness is crucial to avoid becoming a victim to this type of crime and I would encourage people to recognise this. Don't make any payment, don't reply to the email and take measures to enhance your security such as changing your passwords."

Police warn that online fraud is increasing as cyber criminals look to exploit those spending more time at home during the Covid-19 crisis.

Further details on this type of crime and how to protect yourself can be found at www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/keep-secure-online/cybercrime

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