Photo: Pexels / Porapak Apichodilok
A Kamloops woman is warning the community about a disturbing scam after she received an email that had one of her frequently used passwords in the subject line.
Caitlyn, who didn’t want her full name to be published, said the scammer in the email claimed to have video of the recipient viewing pornography and threatened to send footage to the recipient’s social media contacts — unless they pay $2,785.
“It’s quite disgusting,” she said.
“They’re being very demanding, and saying they’re going to blackmail you with these sexual images and videos and send them out to people if you don’t pay this Bitcoin.”
The email, which Caitlyn forwarded to Castanet Kamloops, claims the scammer has tracked the recipient’s internet browser history, specifically mentioning pornography websites, and has also accessed footage of the recipient through a webcam.
The email demands the recipient make a bitcoin payment, or risk the supposed video recording being sent to the recipient’s Facebook contacts.
Caitlyn said she hadn’t accessed any of the websites, nor does she have a Facebook presence, but the password included in the subject line was real — which gave her cause for concern.
“It’s very disturbing. So I immediately started to get freaked out like, well, what does this person have of me?” she said.
“I called the RCMP and a constable did call me back last night and said many people in Kamloops are being targeted with the scam right now.”
Kamloops RCMP Const. Crystal Evelyn said while there hasn’t been a notable increase in instances of fraud, police receive a range of such reports each month.
Evelyn said that can include bail money request scams, social media fraud and thieves claiming to represent government agencies.
“The scam that you referenced involving adult pornography, webcam footage, social media contacts and money demands has been in circulation for some time,” Evelyn said.
“Fraudsters can be very convincing and will often prey on a person’s real fears to extort money.”
Caitlyn said through searching online, she was able to figure out that a couple of websites associated with her email address had had a previous data breach — data linking a password and her email address that could have gone out to hackers.
“That’s how they lure you into thinking that they have all your information when really they don’t, all they have is your email and the password you use for that one website,” she said.
Caitlyn said she feels confident about her own situation after speaking with police, but is concerned others might fall prey to the scam.
“Do not pay the money. Even if the threat is real and you’re worried about what they have, the more that we pay these people money, the more that they’re going to continue to do these things,” she said.
According to Kamloops RCMP, people can report scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
The RCMP said residents should contact police if they have been a victim of a scam, having incurred a financial loss or given out personal information.
In this instance, recorded details of any interaction with a fraudster are helpful for police, including email addresses, phone numbers, and screenshots of any online conversations.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website also suggests disabling webcams or any other camera connected to the internet when not in use, creating strong and unique passwords for each online account, and only logging into accounts from trusted sources.