Scammers are using malware and webcams to obtain photos of
their victims, blackmailing them while masquerading as
police, the West Australian consumer watchdog has warned.
WA's Consumer Protection unit issued the warning after a
Perth mother reported a photo was taken of her 13-year-old
daughter when the family computer became infected with a
ransomware virus, with the scammer posing as an officer of
the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
The photo is displayed in a pop-up warning, which claims that
the computer has been frozen by the AFP or other
international law enforcement agencies, and the victims are
told to pay a fine to unlock it.
The bogus message can be prompted by the user accessing
illegal music and movie download sites or inputting certain
words into search engines.
In another blackmailing scam, victims are befriended through
dating and social networking sites, then convinced to strip
or act in a sexual manner in front of their webcam.
The scammers then demand money and threaten to release the
"The emotional toll on the victims can be immense due to fear
of embarrassment, especially if the victims are young,"
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said.
"This blackmail tactic is being blamed for the recent suicide
of a teenage boy in the UK which is a major concern for us."