CONCORD — Chief Joseph O’Connor and the Concord Police Department would like to warn residents of recently reported “sextortion” phishing scams and remind residents of important safety tips regarding scams.
Over the past week, Concord Police has received reports of “sextortion” phishing scams. The scam often involves victims receiving an email from a purported hacker who states that they have an embarrassing photo or video of the victim and that they will forward the material to family, friends or coworkers unless the victim pays $2,000 in Bitcoin. Oftentimes, the scammer also knows the victim’s computer password.
It is believed that the “sextortion” scam is particularly convincing because scammers have been able to get a hold of legitimate usernames and passwords of the victim. This information may be old, but using real usernames or passwords that the victim has used at one time makes the scam seem more believable.
Concord Police would like to advise residents that the most important thing to do if you receive an email similar to this, is to never pay the ransom.
Concord Police would also like to provide the following tips to help residents avoid email phishing scams:
- If the password emailed to you by the scammers is a password you currently use for any type of account, stop using it and change it immediately.
- For information on creating strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication for online accounts or securely storing your passwords, click here.
- Never respond to the email.
- Don’t open emails from people you don’t know or don’t expect an email from. Pay close attention to the subject line, email address and grammar as these are often preliminary ways to tell that an email is a scam.
- If an email, email attachment or link seems suspicious, do not open it, even if antivirus software indicates that it is safe.
- Consider covering your computer’s camera to prevent unauthorized use or hacking. Electrical tape or a similar material will often work for this purpose.
“Though this phishing scam is through an email, it’s important to remember that phishing attacks can also be via text or social media, so it’s important to always be cautious of unknown numbers, suspicious links or other things that may indicate a scam,” Chief O’Connor said. “No matter how convincing a phishing attack may be, do not respond, do not pay the ransom and contact the police department right away.”
To help people protect themselves from similar scams, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers several tips, including:
- Do not take calls from unknown numbers.
- Do not share personal, identifying information like Social Security numbers, account numbers, or mother’s maiden names.
- Be wary of callers who talk quickly and pressure you to make a decision quickly.
- Do not send cash by messenger, overnight mail, or money transfer. If you pay for a product or service with cash or a money transfer, you run a risk of losing the right to dispute fraudulent charges.
Any Concord resident who believes they have been contacted by a potential scammer, or who believes they may have been a victim of such a scam, should contact the Concord Police Department at 978-318-3400.