Skip to main content

FRAUD ALERT: Extortion Scam (A new twist)


New Brunswickers are being targeted with extortion scam emails with a new twist – one aimed at making it more likely they will be scared into paying a blackmail fee.

Extortion scams refer to any person who unlawfully tries to obtain money, property or services from a person, entity or institution through coercion.

In this latest version,  the victim receives an email suggesting they have been recorded through their webcam while they watched adult websites. The scam artist demands a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin within a certain time period, with the threat to circulate the recording to the victim’s social media and email contacts if payment is not made. The new twist to this old scam is that the email references a real password that the victim may have used in the past, which gives it the appearance of legitimacy.

How to recognize this type of Scam

The email may:

  • begin with: “I’m aware that <password formerly used by victim> is your password.” The scammer has likely harvested emails and previously used passwords from the dark web, or has gained access to a list of compromised passwords from a data breach.
  • try to convince the victim not to report the email to police or to tell anyone why they are purchasing Bitcoin.
  • be poorly written and contain grammatical mistakes.

What to do if you receive an email like this:

  • If you receive a similar email, ignore it and don’t reply to it. Stay calm, don’t panic and do report it.
  • Do not click any links or open any attachments to the email.  They would likely install malware or ransomware on your device.
  • If you are still using the password referenced in the email, change it.

Tips to protect yourself online:

  • Disable your webcam or any other camera connected to the Internet when you are not using it. Hackers are able to obtain remote access and record if certain malware has been installed on your computer.
  • Use a reliable antivirus program.
  • Use strong and unique passwords. Check out this cybersecurity tip for good password management.

Where to report :

  • Report this scam to your local police, the RCMP or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
  • Share details of the scam with your friends and relatives. Every paid ransom is feeding another similar attack on other people, and the next victim could be someone you love.

Learn more about how to report fraud and where to report fraud.

Sign up to receive fraud alerts delivered to your inbox.