Cheryl Parson: Scammers didn’t film you watching porn on computer


BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU

By Cheryl Parson - Better Business Bureau



What do you get if you combine cybercriminals, an ominous email containing your actual (hacked) passwords and a little personal information? Mix in a claim your computer has been infected with malware and they have proof you’ve visited pornographic websites. Top it all off with a good dose of blackmail, with a threat that unless you pay a sum of money by Bitcoin or wire transfer, your email and social media contacts will be sent a compromising video, supposedly recorded with your computer’s camera, of you watching porn.

What you get is the Sextortion Scam, and it is based on the use of a legitimate password, obtained most likely from the AntiPublic Combo List, which is a list of more than 500 million leaked passwords revealed through a number of huge data breaches, most back in 2016.

This is a classic email phishing scam. The Sextortion Scam’s effectiveness is bolstered by several tactics used in many phishing-based scams:

• The scammers cast a wide net. They send out thousands upon thousands of emails, often in a series of threats, hoping someone will “bite.”

• It provides something intended to be secret – a user’s password for example – which causes concern the fraudsters actually have accessed other private info, such as contacts and Internet browser history.

• Then there’s the specter of being accused of the taboo of visiting pornographic websites, whether the accusations are true or not.

However, there is good news. While today it is not uncommon for computers to be infected with Remote Access Trojan (RAT) malware, in the case of the Sextortion Scam, the user’s computer probably has not been impacted. And since the computer isn’t compromised by a RAT, there is no video or a list of contacts to send it to.

What should you do if you get a Sextortion email?

• First, don’t react out of fear. Do web searches or key phrases in emails to verify there is such a scam. Do not assume you are compromised just because of a breached password.

• Check your email addresses and passwords to see if they’ve been breached by visiting the website https://haveibeenpwned.com. Change your passwords when this happens.

• Create a complex password that is long, not predictable and contains numbers, special characters and mixed-case letters.

• Make sure your browsers and operating systems are up-to-date.

• Cover or disable your computer’s camera if the threat makes you nervous.

If you or someone you know has received Sextortion emails, remember it is highly unlikely they are watching you. What they say is happening in the email is not actually taking place. Also, for your peace of mind, just delete the emails and consider them harmless spam.

Grandparent scam returns

We have recently seen an uptick in phone calls from consumers regarding the Grandparent Scam, which typically plays out when you get a call from someone pretending to be your grandchild. The caller frantically explains he (or she) is in trouble (in an accident, in jail, the hospital, etc.) and needs your help. You think the caller does sound a little bit like your grandson. The desperate caller then asks you to send or wire money immediately and says, “Please don’t tell Mom or Dad.”

Your normal initial reaction is to panic. But pause, then ask questions only your grandchild would know, such as the frantic caller’s name or their pet’s name. Then, get off the phone and check with a family member or the person that supposedly called you.

Western Union or MoneyGram, a prepaid card or gift card are the most common payment method scammers utilize. It is just like turning over cash to the scammers.

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BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU

By Cheryl Parson

Better Business Bureau

Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.

Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at www.lima.bbb.org.

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