Beware: Increase in Sextortion Scams
April 22, 2020

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Dear Colleagues, 

In the past two weeks, the District has seen an increase in the number of Sextortion scams. The emails can be unnerving as they contain threats, extortion, statements about installing malware on your computer, and most often contain a password that you recognize. Fortunately, there is no need to panic because they are simply capitalizing on exposed password lists from past data breaches. This scam is so widely spread that the FBI has issued the following advice.  

If you, or anyone else you know, receives an email claiming to have video of you watching pornography, performing sex acts, or some other explicit behavior:  

  • Do not respond to the email.
  • Do not pay the demand in any form. 
  • Report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at https://www.ic3.gov.  

The FBI also suggests a few things you can do to avoid becoming a victim:  

  • Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are—or who they say they are.
  • Do not open attachments from people you do not know.
  • Turn off or cover your web cameras when you are not using them.  

Unfortunately, account information and password lists from previous breaches are freely available on the internet. To combat this effort, both Firefox and Chrome have released free services that check against breached credentials (MS Edge will be releasing their version soon). 

Now would be a great time to review information on How to Recognize Phishing Attempts.