People, just put tape over your webcam already, okay?
One Melbourne man learned that the hard way when he clicked open an email to discover a video of himself in a rather compromising position. In addition to being in flagrante, as it were, he was filmed in the middle of pleasuring himself.
"There I was in all my glory," he said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The hackers in this case demanded a ransom of $10,000 Australian dollars—and said that if he didn’t pay up, there would be swift social consequences.
"There was an email saying they were going to release footage to all my Facebook friends and people I worked with if I don't pay them money,” he said. "Initially I laughed."
But the hackers had a screenshot of his Facebook friends, and personal details from his website—which had him spooked. But after initially negotiating the fee down to $3,000, he decided to stay strong. He posted about the hack on Facebook, and sheepishly told his co-workers about the issue, in case anyone actually received a link to the video. He never heard from the scammers again.
But ABC reported that the incident is far from isolated, with dozens of victims posting about the gambit in a forum.
"The exact same thing happened to me, but I transferred around $1,000 via wire transfer to the person in the Ukraine,” said one victim. “Now in hindsight I know it was the wrong thing to do, but I was tunnel-visioned by fear and panic at the time. Nothing ever was sent out online, but I've now had to change my Facebook account name, shut down my LinkedIn out of fear of my work details being revealed and I'm afraid of what may arise in the future should I want to build a LinkedIn profile etc. again."
Another noted, "I had the exact same thing happen to me. Sent me a list of all my contacts and a copy of the video. I stressed out for a while, called the cops they said they couldn't do anything about it. So I ended up bluffing them and said I told everyone that matters to me about the video and couldn't afford to pay them. So they never sent the video."
Not everyone is as brave as Matt from Melbourne, and that’s exactly what the bad guys are counting on. The easiest way to avoid becoming a victim of blackmail? Cover the camera—or take your private moments somewhere elsewhere than in front of your laptop.
Photo © DVARG