Cyber crime detectives' warning over online porn blackmail scam

A hacker.
A hacker.

Cyber crime detectives are warning internet users in Hartlepool of a blackmail scam that threatens to expose them for viewing pornographic material online.

The criminal sends an email claiming to have installed spyware on the computer and has filmed the recipient partaking in intimate acts via the webcam.

They threaten to send the footage to family and friends unless a fee is paid.

The email seems credible as it often contains a genuine password that the victim has used for one of their online accounts, however the password has likely been stolen in a large-scale data breach and the email has been sent randomly and en masse.

Cleveland Police has received eight reports from victims in the last year, but officers believe it may be more widespread, with people too embarrassed to come forward.

Detective constable Will Galloway said: “These emails make people really believe that they have been spied on, particularly if they have been indulging in what has been claimed.

“The messages are intimidating, threatening, and seek to cause fear and panic.

"Emails are sent out at random in the hope that an unsuspecting victim takes the bait and pays thousands.

“People can protect themselves by not clicking on any links in the email, not paying the demanded fee and not responding.

"These emails are sent out at random in the hope that an unsuspecting victim takes the bait.

“I would encourage victims of this scam to contact action fraud, the national police team who are looking at these cyber scams.”

Internet users can get more information by visiting www.getsafeonline.org or can report online fraud by calling 0300 123 2040.