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Yolo County District Attorney Warns Of COVID-19 'Sextortion' Scam


Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig is warning people who are staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic about a "sextortion" scam seen online recently. He said on Monday that while the scammers most commonly target preteens and young adults, anybody on the Internet can be victimized and should be on the lookout for signs of the scam. With many more people on the internet right now it's more likely to happen you or someone you know.

Here's how it works: Someone claiming to be a hacker will send you an e-mail claiming that your computer has been compromised and that your webcam has been recording you watching sexual content. The e-mail will often include a password you've have used in the past as a way of making the threat seem genuine. Finally, the scammer will typically threaten to release the recording to all of your e-mail contacts if you don't send money.

Reisig said you should remember that sextortion is illegal. If you're targeted in this kind of scam, you get in touch with your local police. It's also recommended that you save all of the original e-mails from the hacker.

You can also take steps to avoid becoming a target of scams online:

  • Do not share your passwords with anybody.
  • Do not use easy to guess passwords such as pet’s names, birthdates, or anything that can be easily by reviewing your social media.
  • Do not click on any links in e-mails. This is a very easy way for your device to be compromised.
  • Teens should be educated on the need to report such threats. It can be a stressful and embarrassing situation for a young teen—talk to your teens about online safety and encourage them to come forward should they receive a suspicious e-mail.
  • Some low-end devices (such as baby monitors or nanny cams) may have one central log on that can be exploited by anyone. Be aware of and understand how to properly use the recording devices you bring into your home.

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