Hackers blackmailing female social media users over private photos, videos on their accounts
At least 34 females have had intimate photos and videos obtained from their social media accounts as part of an online sextortion scam.
Offenders are using compromised accounts to gain access to the victims’ accounts before saving any intimate data they then use to blackmail them, Victoria Police says.
The blackmail can also include requests to move to other online platforms or provide further intimate images.
Detectives have identified at least 34 victims, dating back to July 2019.
It appears the offender is not known to victims.
Cybercrime squad detectives say the victim will often be contacted by a friend to say they are locked out of their account and they have nominated them to receive a message with a verification code to unlock the account, but that code actually unlocks the victim’s account.
Once this happens, the offender searches the victim’s account for any compromising or intimate material they can use to extort them.
Investigators are appealing for public assistance and are urging anyone with information to come forward.
“If you are subject to any type of concerning behaviour like this online, we would urge you to contact police and discuss the circumstances with us,” cybercrime squad Detective Inspector Boris Buick said.
“Anyone who contacts police will be supported and treated with respect, courtesy and dignity.”
Inspector Buick said police believed these matters were underreported through fear, embarrassment or uncertainty about whether a crime had occurred.
“I want to assure the community that Victoria Police is committed to investigating these matters and holding offenders to account,” he said.
“And as is your choice, if you do choose to share intimate pictures via social media accounts, we would encourage you to review your privacy settings and ensure they’re as stringent as possible.”
Inspector Buick urged anyone who has been subject to such concerning behaviour to talk to police, even if they did not wish to make a formal report as the force can still help victims seek further support.
Anyone with knowledge of these incidents is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report online.
SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS
- Social media users should never pass on any authentication codes for an account. If you receive a request of this nature, call your friend to verify the authenticity of the request and report any compromised accounts.
- Do not assist any user to gain access to an account, even if it appears to be a known friend. Account recovery can only be done by the account user directly with the platform administrator.
- Carefully consider what data you store or send via social media platforms, as this can be accessed by hackers.
- Where possible, do not upload, save or forward any intimate pictures or sensitive information.
- If you’ve been a cybercrime victim, speak to police if you have concerns or use online forums such as ReportCyber and the eSafety Commissioner that will assess the report and provide them to police.
Originally published as Hackers blackmailing female social media users over private photos, videos on their accounts
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