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Security Response

Please Leave Your Hat On

Created: 17 Dec 2013 19:55:23 GMT • Updated: 23 Jan 2014 18:02:18 GMT • Translations available: 日本語
Candid Wueest's picture
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Webcam blackmailing 1.jpg

Recently, we wrote about creepware and how people use it to spy on unsuspecting victims through webcams. As the name implies, this is really creepy. Unfortunately, there are other similar threats on the Internet. Another scam that has become very popular this year is webcam blackmailing. In these cases, the scammers don’t hide the fact that they are using the webcam.

The scam starts with a simple contact request on a social network or dating site. In general, the profile sending the request appears to be the scammer (posing as a woman), and the request is sent to single men. After a bit of small talk, the scammer explains why she fell in love with the man’s profile picture and then changes the topic to one of a more sexual nature. The scammer asks the man to video chat with her, starts stripping, and encourages the man to do the same. If the man joins in, the compromising video is recorded by the scammer until enough incriminating material has been gathered. Once enough video has been recorded, the scammer changes the topic again and indicates that the video will be publicly uploaded and shared with his friends on social networks if he does not pay.

Multiple variations of this scam exist. For example, some scammers ask for photos instead of videos, some use a previously recorded video of a woman stripping to entice the victim, and others ask for money for a better Internet connection or webcam. The scammer promises better video quality if money is sent, they pocket the money right away, and never buy better equipment. To make it even worse, scammers will claim that the victim was chatting with a child, attaching the stigma of pedophilia to the victim. Any personal information that was shared is published along with the video. In some cases a link to a compromised website is sent in order to infect the victim’s computer with a Trojan. The principle behind the scam is always the same. In any case, users should stay vigilant when using social networks or dating sites.

  • Be wary of messages from unknown people who want to befriend you. Especially if the topic of sexual video chatting is brought up quickly.
  • Think twice before performing compromising acts in front of a camera. Limit the personal details that you share with strangers.
  • Don’t fall for prepaid scams. Don’t send money for arbitrary reasons.
  • If someone attempts to extort money from you, don’t pay, and call the police. Don’t be embarrassed. If a compromising video of you has been uploaded, contact the service provider and try to have the content removed.