26 September 2023

Intimate email scam stirs ACSC

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The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has warned Australians to beware of a “sextortion” email scam that threatens the release of intimate photographs unless substantial payment is made.

The Centre has received more than 1,900 reports of the emails within the past fortnight.

It said the scammers may claim to have compromised a computer or other electronic device, and may include either a full or partial password that the recipient has used in the past.

Sextortion is a form of online blackmail where a perpetrator threatens to reveal intimate images of someone online, often to their friends and family, unless they pay a ransom (commonly in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoins). In reality, the scammers most often have no compromising information.

Most of the scam emails appear to have been received on 9or 10 April. The name of the sender was different in each instance of the email address.

The ACSC said it had not received any reports of financial loss and in most cases, there is no reason to be concerned.

Australians are urged not to make payments, to cease all contact with the scammers and delete the email.

It said scammers generated emails like these by the thousand, using limited personal details often obtained from previous data breaches. The goal is to bully recipients into paying a ransom.

It said that if the email included a password you recognise, or is similar to one you are using, you should update all relevant accounts. Each account should have its own unique, strong password.

It said that if you have concerns about your physical safety, call Triple Zero (000) or contact your local police.

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