Sextortion scam could be cause for concern, BBB says

Sextortion scam could be cause for concern, BBB says

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The threat of a scammer exposing videos or photos taken from a person’s most private moments could be enough to send the victim on a mad dash to the bank in order to appease the scammer’s every wish.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says scammers are taking advantage of the power these types of schemes have over victims. Its representatives are hoping to arm members of the public with the tools to spot these types of scams and fight back.


The BBB says sextortion emails scams include threats that scammers will reveal images and videos of the victim watching or utilizing pornography, copies of the victim’s browser history, and evidence that the victim downloaded videos from pornographic sites. In some cases the scammer will claim they hacked into the victim’s computer and activated the webcam as the victim watched pornography.

In most cases these threats are empty and the scam can easily be spotted because of the lack of any personal details included in the email. However, the BBB says data breaches may have exposed the victim’s email, telephone number, and at least one password. If a scammer got their hands on that information the threat can suddenly seem more convincing.

RELATED: MoviePass reports data breach, customers’ credit card numbers possibly exposed

The BBB is sharing the following tips to help you identify and protect yourself from sextortion emails.

Red flags:

  • The scammer does not provide any details about what site you supposedly visited.
  • The scammer cannot support their threat with any evidence, for example, a compromising screenshot to prove they have the information they claim.
  • The scammer requests an urgent ransom be paid in gift cards, bitcoins or wire transfer.

Protect Yourself:

  • Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are—or who they say they are.
  • Try searching the web for one or two sentences from the email to confirm it is actually spam.
  • No matter what the email threatens, do not respond. Also delete the email.
  • Do not open attachments or click links in emails from people you do not know. Doing so could lead you to a fake website designed to trick you into giving up personal information or you may download malware to your computer or mobile device.
  • Never send money, buy a gift card or do anything to comply with the demands in the email.
  • Do a security check on your computer and install security software.
  • Enable two-factor authentication on your important accounts.
  • Change passwords often and consider getting a password manager to ensure your passwords are strong and unique. Avoid using ‘password’, ‘Password123’, ‘12345’, and other most commonly used passwords.
  • To give you peace of mind, keep webcams covered when you are not using them

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.