Over the last few months a number of people in the county have received emails that threaten to expose the recipient for bogus internet usage.

Here’s how it works. In an email, the criminal tells the victim that he or she knows a lot about the victim. The criminal says malware, like a RAT (Remote Access Tool), was setup on the victim’s computer and has used the victim’s webcam to film the target watching adult video clips (porn), and has proof that the victim visited these sites.

The extortionist claims that he or she has hacked your account. The hacker is counting on you to believe him or her because hacking is widespread. In some instances, they even posted a partial password that you may have used. Often times these are from old hacks that had your email associated with the account the password came from.

Upon reading this, notice the grammar and the language used, it often has mistakes because these scammers are not from the US. Like so many scams, it is most likely a foreign actor preying on unsuspecting victims.

Let’s be clear, you know where you’ve been on the internet. The scammer claims to have you on video watching various sites. Some victims who have received this email don’t have video cams on their computers. That would be your first clue that this is bogus. Even if you do have a camera, you know where you have visited, and, by the way, cover the camera when not using it.

The criminal goes on to threaten the victim with exposure on social network sites, those on your email list, and any other contact list you may use. The scammer “suggests” you pay him or her in cash or Bitcoin (a digital form of currency) to stop the video from going out. The scammer claims to have made copies of the “video.”

These scare tactics are just that. This is extortion and the criminal is hoping that you will panic, though you’ve done nothing wrong, and pay the demand. Remember, the Internet is like the Wild West and you could be getting a message from someone next door or halfway around the world.

Don’t pay the demand! Don’t follow up with this hacker. If you’ve received one of these and did not lose money, report it to IC3.gov or if you have sent money, call 410-887-2222 to make a report if you live in Baltimore County.