UAH, FBI warns students about “sextortion” scams
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The University of Alabama at Huntsville’s Dean of Students and Chief of Police sent emails out to students about “sextortion” scams on Tuesday.
“Sextortion” is when someone receives an email from an alleged hacker who claims to have hacked the victim’s computer and filmed them watching pornography. The scammer then threatens to forward the video to all of the victim’s contacts unless they pay a ransom.
According to the email, scammers will also contact their victims through social media, dating sites or online games. The scammers’ goal is to force victims to send money or share sexual content.
The scammer often times lists the victim’s name and one of their passwords or usernames in the subject line to be more convincing. According to FBI reports, passwords used in these scams have been obtained from large data breaches that were leaked on the internet, meaning the victim’s computer was not actually hacked.
In the email, Dean of Students, Dr. Ronnie Herbert and UAH Chief of Police, Brian R. Cozby mention red flags to identify possible sextortion:
· Person does not have a working camera: The person you are talking to does not have a working camera, but they still want you to share yours.
· Fast-paced contact: The person contacts you immediately after they follow you and quickly tries to get you to send images or join a video call.
· Use of fear: The person you are talking to uses fear tactics to attempt to get you to pay them money.
· Low number of pictures: The person’s profile has only a few photos available.
· Numerous misspellings: The profile has common words misspelled.
· New profile: The profile is new and does not have a lot of followers/friends.
The FBI also mentioned strategies on what to do if someone was to speak with a possible sextortionist:
· Cease contact: Every situation is different. Sextortionists who are motivated by financial gain usually do not distribute images. The best first line of defense is to end all contact.
· Block: Immediately block the person on your social media pages, email, and phone.
· Do not pay: If the person requests money, do not pay them. This will likely increase the threats and extortion efforts of the person attempting to receive money.
· Report to law enforcement: Please call UAH Police at 256–824–6596 or your local law enforcement
· Collect evidence and document communications: This will help in your effort to file a police report.
· Beware of expensive cyber-recovery scams: These scams claim to be able to access the images and destroy them. Often, this is another layer to the overall sextortion scam.
· Consider deactivating your social media accounts: If you are being contacted across multiple profiles, it may be beneficial to temporarily deactivate your accounts.
For more information about sextortion visit the FBI website.
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