FORT FRANCES, ON — Ontario Provincial Police have issued a warning to the public about a new extortion scam that has shown up in northwestern Ontario.
Targeted victims receive an email indicating that the sender has a video showing the person in a sexually explicit act.
If the recipient refuses to pay a fee via bitcoin—a global digital currency—the extortionist threatens to share the video with the individual's family members, friends and colleagues.
Bitcoin allows people to exchange funds across the internet without identifying themselves.
According to OPP, the scammer's emailed threat cites a password the victim uses or has previously used, as "proof" that the recipient's computer has been hacked while the person visited a pornographic website.
It further claims that the extortionist was able to access a webcam, and that "all proceedings were recorded."
OPP say information obtained via the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre indicates that no actual video exists in these cases, and that the scammers likely obtained passwords during previous data breaches.
A police news release included tips on how consumers can protect themselves from this kind of extortion attempt:
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
- Change your passwords regularly - especially if you have been involved in a data breach.
- Although not a guarantee, consumers may search their email address to confirm possible involvement in a previous hack or breach: https://haveibeenpwned.com/.
- Keep anti-virus programs updated and run checks routinely.
- Beware of unsolicited emails demanding personal information or immediate payment.
- If you've been involved in a data breach, contact the credit bureaus to place fraud alerts on your identity.
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501, or the Ontario Provincial Police at 1-888-310-1122.