Public asked to be aware of sextortion scam

Published 15 April 2020

Police Scotland is asking people to be aware of an email scam currently circulating where fraudsters are threatening to publish online footage of victims.

The scam involves emails being sent to people with the suspect claiming to have video footage of the recipient watching pornography. The suspect is then demanding payment in bitcoin, threatening that failure to do so will result in the video being published. This is known as sextortion.

Sixteen reports were made to Police Scotland overnight on Thursday 9 April 2020, with the latest number rising to 96 reports by Tuesday 14 April 2020. The reports have been from people across every police division in Scotland.

Detective Inspector Michael McCullagh, of cybercrime investigations, said: "These type of scams aren't unusual however this particular suspect or group has used a similar  method and wording in every email and in greater numbers than we normally see.

"The emails show current or legacy passwords belonging to the victim, making the threat seem credible. This is a tactic used by criminals to alarm potential victims.

"Awareness is crucial to avoid becoming a victim to this type of crime and I would encourage people to recognise this. Don't make any payment, don't reply to the email and take measures to enhance your security such as changing your passwords."

Further details on this type of crime and how to protect yourself can be found here: https://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/keep-secure-online/cybercrime or https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/section/advice-guidance/all-topics


Contact Details

Call 101 for non-emergencies and general policing matters, in an emergency call 999. If you have information about a crime you can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If your email enquiry is relating to the UK or Scottish Governments coronavirus guidance please refer to gov.scot/coronavirus. If it is a medical enquiry regarding coronavirus please refer to nhsinform.scot/coronavirus.


Your Community

Find out more about local policing issues in this area by visiting: Argyll and West Dunbartonshire, Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh, Fife, Forth Valley, Greater Glasgow, Highlands and Islands, Lanarkshire, North East, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde, Tayside, The Lothians and Scottish Borders


Originally Published: