Scam alert: Email extortion scam currently targeting Canadians

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The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre (CAFC) is warning the public about an ongoing extortion scam targeting Canadians.

According to the CAFC, people across the country have been receiving “threatening” emails that claim someone has gained access to their computer. The message goes on to say the fraudster was able to install malware and record an explicit video of the individual.

“The email sender threatens to send the video to the recipient’s contacts, if they do not pay money via bitcoin immediately,” the bulletin from the anti-fraud centre reads. “The fraudsters apply pressure on the recipient by setting a short time limit.”

In an attempt to prove the legitimacy of the message, the fraudster will include a current or previous password the victims has used, which was collected through an earlier scam, like phishing.

Earlier this month, Toronto police warned the public about extortion email scams, prompting people to share their personal experience with these fraudulent messages.

On Apr. 13 the Guelph Police Service said it had received several complaints about a similar email scam circulating among the city’s residents. Each victim received an email from an anonymous person claiming to have “personal information and pictures” of the victim, attempting to extort the individual for money.

How Canadians can protect themselves

The CAFC is advising Canadians to not open unsolicited emails and warning the public to not send any money or cryptocurrency under pressure.

In terms of password protection, everyone should use strong passwords at all times, creating a different one for each and every account. Personal information, including financial information, should never be shared.

Canadians should also make sure their computer’s operating system is updated regularly, including any anti-virus software.

Any scams in Canada can be reported online at www.antifraudcentre.ca or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.