Imagine scrolling the internet minding your own business when you check your email and see that someone sent you a link. It says that someone has been trying to access their computer and with this extra security feature, your device will have an extra layer of protection. Feels too good to be true, right? Your gut instincts are correct. Once you click on the link, your device locks up on you and a scammer tells you that you need to pay them a lot of money to gain access of your device back. This is an example of a type of internet blackmail.
What is Internet Blackmail?
Internet blackmail is when someone threatens to leak information to either get them to do something they don’t want to do or to make them stop doing something they want to do. Even though there are people that don’t think so, internet blackmail is a serious federal offense. There have been online blackmailers that have been prosecuted and sentenced for their actions online.
Example: A scammer tells you they will leak your inappropriate pictures/videos if you tell anyone that this person is a scammer.
Types of Internet Blackmail
- Extortion is when a scammer threatens you that they will do something if you don’t give them money, property, or something else they want. This is different than normal blackmail because with normal blackmail they threaten to leak something about you to someone if you do something they want. With extortion, they want money, property, or something else in return for not leaking your information.
- Ransomware is when a scammer locks their victim’s computer until the victim pays a ransom.
- Example: A scammer sends phishing emails to their victim. The victim then opens the email on their device and clicks on the link, which downloads malware on their device. This malware then locks them out of their device, and the scammer lets them know that the only way to gain access to their device back is to pay them money.
- Threats of Action is a form of extortion directed toward businesses of all sizes. The scammer figures out the company’s secrets through leaked information from phishing emails or hacking company devices. They then contact the head of the companies and threaten to leak said secrets if the businesses don’t pay the scammer.
- Example: According to Business Insider, an IT company that has major clients such as Oracle, Porsche, and Airbus has received threats of action since the hackers were able to obtain information about them and their clients. They are asking for money to keep their secrets private, but the company has not given in to their threats.
- Threats of Defamation (Libel) is when the scammer threatens to destroy the victim’s reputation with statements that aren’t true if they don’t pay up with money or something else.
- Example: According to the New York Times, David Letterman came forward stating that a CBS producer was going to tell everyone that he had sexual relationships with women on his show if he didn’t give the producer $2 million. The producer, Robert Halderman, pleaded guilty to larceny in New York shortly after the incident.
How to Protect Yourself Against Internet Blackmail
- Don’t open suspicious links on random emails. These could be phishing emails that are trying to steal your information and install malware on your devices. This malware could lock you out of your computer if you aren’t careful.
- Use stronger passwords. Using stronger passwords on your accounts could prevent scammers and hackers from accessing your account. This will give them less information to use against you if they are trying to blackmail you into something.
- Make your social media accounts private. This will allow for more of your personal information to remain private to your friends only so that the scammers can’t use it against you.
- Remove your personal information from online sources. By removing your personal information from your social media accounts and other sources, scammers won’t be able to use it against you.
- Don’t give anyone money for any reason. Usually, a scammer only says that they have certain information about you but doesn’t really. For example, in the sextortion scam, a scammer will say they have inappropriate images and videos of you but won’t really have it. If someone actually does have your private information and is trying to extort you, contact the police instead of giving them money.
- Block the scammer. By blocking them off everything, they won’t be able to scare you with their threats.
- Contact local authorities. Give all information about the scammer to local authorities if they continue to harass you.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
If you’re a victim of online blackmail and the scammers won’t leave you alone, Social Catfish is here to help you! We can reverse search their information to see who they really are by searching their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image.
No sales pitches, no games, and one-click unsubscribe.