Press release: September 2020

White Rock, BC, September 6, 2020: A sneaky email scam that’s been around for years has seen a resurgence in Lower Mainland in the last few weeks – now much more believable because everyone’s working remotely and using their webcams more.

The so-called “sextortion” scam fools employees into thinking they’ve been captured on their webcam while visiting adult websites.

Requests for up to $1,000 in Bitcoin have been documented to prevent the videos being released.

“But these videos don’t actually exist,” explains Lubos Hrasko, a Chief Technology Enthusiast at Fantastic IT Services.

It’s just a clever scam being emailed to millions of people at the same time. A simple webcam cover costing $3 can eliminate any fear of this being legit.

This is generally how the scam plays out:

  • A person gets an unsolicited email claiming to have a recorded video recording of the person browsing the web during their personal time
  • It’s unclear about what was been recorded, allowing the space to jump to conclusions
  • The email may also contains one of the persons passwords, which makes it seem more likely that they’ve been hacked. The password is more likely to have come from an online list of hacked websites
  • The email demands payment in Bitcoin to stop the video from being released

“Nearly every computer, laptop, tablet and phone released recently has a built-in webcam” Lubos said.

“It is technically possible for the cameras to be operated without people realizing it – although this is very rare except in very exceptional and high-stakes circumstances.”

“These email scammers are playing a social engineering game, and it makes us angry when they cause fear or panic.”

Fantastic IT has issued the following guidance to its clients:

  1. Fit sliding webcam covers to all devices
  2. Reset all passwords using a random generator, and use a password manager to keep track of them easily.
  3. Never panic when receiving a scammy email. Talk to our data security experts. We see this sort of thing every day and can offer valuable context and advice.

Fantastic IT Services was formed in 2015 and now looks after dozens of local businesses in the Metro Vancouver area.