Home » Blog » Scams and Blackmail: How to Take Control?
Scams and blackmails are the biggest issues of this generation. Scams are nothing but illegal plans and schemes for earning money. Tricking people is primarily involved in scams. Blackmail is the act of using threats of revealing information or data about a person which is often damaging. It is the act of making money from people or forcing them into doing something out of their will by threatening to reveal private secrets or possibly to harm them. Extortion exists in almost all parts of the world and young people, as well as people in their senior years, are victims.
Cyber and internet scams happen very frequently these days. There are high chances that one may be subjected to money extortion and electronic extortion as well.
For example, if you have received any message saying that someone will post private pictures of you and your family if you don’t give them a substantial amount of money, you are a victim of scam and blackmail. You are being extorted if you ever face these kinds of issues and situations.
There are some precautions and measures, in general, to follow which can protect oneself against blackmailing or scams.
What is the issue?
Any criminal and illegal offense which involves obtaining money or benefits from an institution through force is considered as scam and blackmail. There are strict laws against this, and the authorities tend to take this crime very seriously. The penalties and punishments for scam and extortion are fine or imprisonment or sometimes both. One can face up to twenty years of a sentence if they commit fraud and blackmail. The punishment tends to depend on whether there was force used in obtaining the money and benefits.
Are you a victim?
If you think you’re a victim of scam and blackmail, there are certain ways in which you can handle it. The first measure you should take when involved in fraud and extortion is to report the crime right away. Agreeing to their demands will only make it worse, and it will lead to them thinking that you would be willing to pay more. They will then be a constant attempt to drain your cash and property.
Cyber Scams and Blackmail:
The internet is one of the greatest reasons for growth and expansion in this world. It is very vast and has ventures that are yet to be discovered. There are always two sides to every coin. Many people fail to realize that the internet is extremely dangerous as well. Cybercrime is increasing every day. The primary reason is the lack of general awareness. If you are under internet scam and blackmail, you can directly contact the company under which the suspicious content is hosted.
Hosts tend to take their image very seriously as they cannot be seen as a criminal organization. If the criminals involved in the crime state to be involved in legitimate enterprises such as Google, you can directly contact the organization and verify. Notifying the organizations of the potential scam and blackmail will make them realize that they need to keep their guard up which helps to protect themselves and their customers.
Avoiding Scams and Blackmail:
Scams and blackmail can happen to anyone at any time. It means that everyone should take measures to protect themselves from potential crime.
Scams and blackmail tend to originate in the cyber community, so it is incredibly essential to learn how to avoid cyber scams and extortion. Safeguarding your computer by software can help in the long run when someone tries to commit a crime involving you. It is useful if one makes sure that their computer runs on the latest antivirus software and that the software updates daily.
One should always be aware of clicking on unknown emails and suspicious links. It is also essential for one to be mindful of the early signs of malware such as a sudden decline in the performance of the computer or swift pop-up ads.
It is essential to protect other electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets and lock your wireless network with a strong password so hacking can be avoided. An infection there could lead to infection to the rest of the home network.
It is also essential to secure your home wireless surveillance camera if you have one. Home wireless surveillance cameras are easy to hack, and criminals may take advantage of private videos and try to blackmail you.
We tend to spend a considerable part of our lives online. We tend to ignore how dangerous sharing information to the online world can be. It is always necessary to be careful about what you share, how much you share and to whom you are sharing it with.
An excellent way to start is to keep your social media pages private and to check your security settings occasionally to make sure you are protected. It can prevent you from getting blackmailed and scammed.
Reporting Scam and Blackmail:
There are concrete methods that one must follow when trying to report scam and blackmail. One should collect all the documents and information or any proof to show that you are being scammed and blackmailed. It could include verbal or written threats and messages. It is essential to make sure you talk to the local authorities in your area. Filing a report in person is always a better idea than calling the police. Additionally, reporting the scam and blackmail to the state police protects you and your rights further. While making contact with the police, you should be sure to deal with the situation in the right way as the criminal may extend extreme threats and even harm you.
Proving Scams and Blackmail:
Lastly, you should be able to prove that you are being scammed and blackmailed. You can ask the police and authorities for help when dealing with measures to prove scam and blackmail. Gathering evidence and reporting to the relevant organizations must be done as soon as possible. Moreover, proving scam and blackmail is an issue of the law, so it is always better and more beneficial to seek the help of legal professionals and lawyers.
Everyone hopes that they will never be victimized from online scams and blackmail. But if you are chosen, it is important not to panic and follow the relevant methods to get yourself out of the situation as quickly as possible.
Contact us today to learn about Bleuwire™ services and solutions in how we can help your business.
“Pay up, or you’ll be sorry.”
Count yourself lucky if you haven’t received a cyber blackmail with chilling words like these. Cybercrime is growing more quickly than ever as criminals find different ways to dupe people. Of all the schemes, it’s the email extortion scam that tops the chart.
At Zoho, our Anti-Fraud and Anti-Spam teams continuously strive to fight cybercrime. From handling abuse complaints to suspending guilty accounts, they are on their toes to prevent our customers from becoming victims.
With reliance on the internet making everyone a potential victim, we’re sharing our teams’ findings to the outside world to help reduce the cybercrime rate.
What does an extortion email look like?
Take a look at the example shown below, and you’ll know.
Now let’s do some sampling here. To make the threat look as credible as possible, the spammer has mentioned a password that supposedly belongs to the victim. They also say that keylogger (a malicious surveillance tool) was used to steal the password. This may be beyond comprehension for a person that isn’t so tech-savvy, and the spammers use it to their advantage. Furthermore, people who watch pornography are easier targets, which is why extortion has very much become ‘sextortion’ these days.
How do I deal with an extortion email scam?
Let’s find out by considering the same example.
The email, in fact, arrived in one of my acquaintance’s inbox. And he wasted no time in seeking the help of the Anti-Fraud and Security team. Knowing that cybercriminals normally extract information from data breaches that have happened across the globe, our team started their investigation on that front. It turned out the criminal had cashed in on the 2012 LinkedIn hack to come up with the extortion email.
If you receive cyber blackmail like this, these are the steps you should follow:
1. Check for data breaches
With regard to the infamous 2012 LinkedIn hack I mentioned earlier, a hacker breached their database, stole 6.5 million encrypted passwords and posted them on an illegal forum. Many companies have been on the receiving end of data breaches, and it’s gaining widespread attention. The stolen data is usually sold for a huge price in the dark web marketplaces. And that’s where the foul play starts.
If you confront cyber blackmail at all with a password that you use or possibly have used before, change the password of all your associated accounts. As a next step, check whether your email address was involved in any data breaches. This way, you can identify the breached site and change your password.
2. Check your footprints on the unauthorized sites
Realizing that email is an inseparable part of our lives today, cyber-criminals build websites that are sure to attract visitors. For instance, a gaming website. When you sign-up for such websites with your email address, you play into the hands of hackers. Assuming you’ve used one of your primary passwords for their site, a hacker might use the password to break into your other important accounts and create damage beyond repair.
3. Understand that the spammer may just be trying his luck
Sometimes, your email address alone is good enough for a spammer to gain access to your accounts. How? When the hashed password combinations from the 2012 LinkedIn hack got exposed in 2016, a staggering 753,305 users had ‘123456’ as their password. In hindsight, anyone can guess a password as weak as this. But where did they get your email address? Simple! If you mention your email ID on a page that comes under the purview of a search engine, you’re leaving trails.
How to protect yourself from cyber blackmail
Now that you know how to react to cyber blackmail, here are some tips that might help you prevent it in the first place:
1. Don’t use a common password across platforms.
2. Create a password that is 12-14 character in length. Also, make sure it’s a combination of numbers, symbols, lower-case letters, and capital letters.
3. Make sure your password doesn’t contain a part of your name, your city or country’s name, or even a dictionary word.
Hope this helped! Stay tuned to this space for more updates on cybersecurity.
When I’m not at my desk, you’ll find me reading the last page of newspapers (for Cricket updates) at the pantry. I owe it all to Cricket. Making memes is far easier than making money. Music and sarcasm are my daily bread. Writing keeps me ticking.