HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Leaders at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) say students need to be on alert after a number of “sextortion” scams were reported on campus.
According to an email sent to students on Tuesday, UAH Police have received reports of the scams over the past week. The email was signed by both UAH Police Chief Brian R. Cozby and Dr. Ronnie Hebert, the Dean of Students.
The scams typically involved victims receiving an email from an alleged hacker claiming to have footage of the victim watching pornography. The hacker then threatens to send the footage to the victim’s contacts unless a ransom is paid.
The scammers will also contact victims through social media, online dating sites, or online games.
“The goal of those committing this crime is usually to force victims to hand over money or share more sexual content,” the email from Cozby and Hebert stated. “Sextortion can often be a form of organized crime.”
The “sextortion” scam itself looks more legitimate than typical scams. This is because scammers will often use actual usernames and passwords in the subject line of the phishing email.
Those passwords came from large data breaches leaked onto the web, according to the FBI.
“The victim’s computer was not actually hacked,” the email continued. “The information is most likely old, but using real usernames or passwords that the victim has used at one time makes the scam seem more believable.”
There are plenty of red flags when it comes to spotting a sextortionist. These include things like fast-paced contact, use of fear, misspellings, a new profile without a lot of followers or friends, few pictures, and the fact that the person does not have a working camera.
The FBI offered tips on how to interact with a person you believe to be a sextortionist:
- Stop: The best line of defense is to end all contact with the possible sextortionist.
- Block them: Block the person on your social media, email, and phone.
- Don’t pay: If the possible sextortionist asks for money, do not give it to them.
- Make a report: If you suspect a sextortion scam of happening to you on UAH campus, contact the university’s police department at 256-824-6596.
- Collect evidence: Document communications between you and the person you believe to be a sextortionist. It will help you file a police report later on.
- Consider deactivating your social media: If you’re being harassed across multiple mediums, think about temporarily deactivating your accounts.
If you believe you have been the victim of a sextortion scam at UAH, contact the UAH Police Department at 256-824-6596. Learn more about sextortion and how to combat the scam on fbi.gov.