Blackmail – it sounds like something you would expect in the TV-drama of the week or a spy movie. But, unfortunately, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has been seeing a sharp increase in the number of blackmail scams recently via both e-mail and regular mail.
Not all blackmail scams are the same, but there are some commonalities that can give them away. The extortionist accuses the victim of visiting adult websites, downloading porn, cheating on a spouse, or being involved in some other kind of compromising situation. The scammer will then leave you with an ultimatum – pay a ransom fee of thousands of dollars or do nothing and he will send a video of you in the compromising situation to everyone in your contact list.
It is important to remember that blackmail scams are going to change and adapt to take advantage of current events and high profile data breaches. This will add authenticity to the scammer's claims. The following list does not include all possible tricks or indicators, however, it does show red flags for which you can watch:
What should you do to protect yourself from the blackmail scam?
If you have been victimized by this online scam or any other cyber fraud, be sure to report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.