Local police have a warning for residents after several reports of what are being described as "sextortion" scams.

According to the Bethel Police Department, the scam typically begins with an email claiming a resident's computer has been hacked and that intimate videos have been obtained. Many of the scamming claims also cite the victim's alleged use of pornographic websites.

Police say that while initial emails are typically generic, they've also seen instances in which a victim's password has been used as the subject line. Some emails may even appear to have been sent from the victim's own account. Those instances is where things can get a bit complicated.

The BPD reports that cases in which the victim’s password or other personal information is within the initial message is usually the result of another account having been previously compromised and that information being obtained through the dark web. This reportedly allows the scammer to make it seem as though they have truly hacked your account when in fact, they have not. They are simply trying to convince the victim to either send money or provide further information.

Often times with these "sextortion" cases, the scammer claims to have access to the victim’s contact list, threatening to send the intimate videos and photos to the said contacts unless a payment is made through Bitcoin or other online payments. This scams are what is referred to as "phishing," during which scammers cast a wide net in hopes that people reply. It often turns out that no one is uniquely targeted.

If you happen to receive one of these emails, the Bethel PD offers the following advice:

  1. Do not respond.
  2. Do not send any payments to the scammer.
  3. Immediately change passwords on any online accounts that may have been breached.
  4. Delete the scam email and mark it as spam so that your email filter removes it.
  5. Use different password variations for each online account. This step should protect you in the future because if one account is breached, no other account should be affected.
  6. Lastly, use the website https://haveibeenpwned.com/. This website will permit you to see if your email address is listed as being affected by one of the large data breaches included on their database. If your email address is listed, make sure you update your password on any of the affected sites.

In the event that you have fallen victim to the email and suffered a financial loss as a result, contact the Bethel Police Department to make a report.

If you have not suffered a financial loss, follow the aforementioned steps.

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