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Sextortion Scamming Emails - Don't Pay Them!

We'd like to think we can protect our clients online at all costs, particularly as emailing is likely to be our main method of communication with you. In this article John Bolton, Marketing Executive, sheds some light on the recent trend of "sextortion" scam emails that people have received in the UK and worldwide, and provides useful tips on how you can protect yourself.

We've all received emails that we can instantly mark as spam.

An example of one I received recently was from a Marilyn Hall (I've never heard of this person) with a subject reading "Congratulations, you are a winner" (my eyes instantly begin to roll) and stating in the body of the email that I have won a "150% bonus up to $1500 on an online gaming experience like no other" (an online gaming experience that isn't even named).

Unless Marilyn is correct and this is a "top quality gaming experience" which will provide "enough house money to lure lady luck your way", I highly doubt that I am missing out by marking this as junk. In fact my email account is smart enough to mark it as junk for me.

But what about when the sender quotes your actual password?!

The following video by the BBC summarises the recent trend of "sextortion" emails that the UK has seen:

The BBC video shows that if you have received a Sextortion email, you are not alone. Clearly the advice in this video suggests making changes to your password and security policy such as a password manager, to ensure that the sender won't contact you again - but what if you haven't already seen this article or the BBC's video?

Would you have met their demands, knowing that they held personal data such as your password?

Below is an example of an email the Marketing department received from a hacker by the name of teodorico19:

Chesterton House is lucky enough to be supported by Software into Action - an IT Consultancy and Support solutions company that reassured and instructed us when we received the above email. Not everyone has that benefit.

If you think that you could be a victim of Sextortion emails, Action Fraud recommends the following advice:

  • Don’t reply to the email, or be pressured into paying: it only highlights that you’re vulnerable and you could be targeted again. The police advise that you do not pay criminals. Try flagging the email as spam/junk if you receive it multiple times.

  • Perform password resets as soon as possible on any accounts where you’ve used the password mentioned in the email. Always use a strong, separate password for important accounts, such as your email. Where available, enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).

  • Always install the latest software and app updates. Install, or enable, anti-virus software on your laptops and computers and keep it updated.

  • If you have received one of these emails and paid the fine, report it to your local police force. If you have not paid, report the email as a phishing attempt to Action Fraud.

A man named John Landgraf once said that "Information technology and the Internet are rapidly transforming almost every aspect of our lives - some for better, some for worse". The internet has changed our lives for the better in many ways, and at Chesterton House we are excited by the ways in which the use of the internet has enabled us to improve our service to you, and by how much more we will be able to offer as technology continues to develop.

Unfortunately there will always be a negative side to the internet, but with vigilance and careful sharing of your personal information there's no reason to stop enjoying the numerous benefits it has to offer. If you have received one of these types of emails and paid the ransom, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us and we'll do what we can to help.

If you found this article interesting why not take a look at our other posts? You can find them all here.


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