Arlington Heights Police Department Warns of Sextortion Email and Text Scams; Advises ‘Don’t Send Money’

The Arlington Heights Police Department reported Wednesday, May 27, 2020 that the police department would like to raise awareness to an email/text scam classified as “Sextortion.” The offenders behind this scam typically email or text message potential victims and threaten to release the victim’s sexually explicit videos/ photographs / pornographic online search history to the victim’s family, friends, and other contacts – unless the victim pays them a substantial sum of money (often in the form of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin). The offenders inform victims that spyware or malware infected his/her computer or device and allowed them to obtain this content. The message may even provide a previous or current password for the victim’s computer. These are likely obtained through a previous online data-breach, which unfortunately, are commonplace. Although this may be frightening, these messages are merely scare tactics. It is highly unlikely the offenders have accessed the computer or device in the described manner.

If you receive one of these email or text messages, do not engage the offenders in conversation and most importantly, do not send them any money. During the recent pandemic, the FBI has reported an increase in these types of crimes.

The FBI provided the following further guidance on staying safe:

Do not open emails or attachments from unknown individuals.

Monitor your bank statements and your credit report for any unusual activity.

Do not communicate with senders of unsolicited email.

Do not store sensitive or embarrassing photos or information online or on your mobile devices.

Use strong passwords. Do not use the same password for multiple websites.

Never provide personal information — of any sort — via e-mail. Be aware that many e-mails requesting your personal information appear to be legitimate.

Ensure that security settings for social media accounts are activated and set at the highest level of
protection.

Verify the web address of legitimate websites, and manually type the address into your browser.

If you believe you are a victim of sextortion or know someone else who is, the Arlington Heights Police Department recommends you call your local FBI office or toll-free at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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