Mayor Lianne Dalziel has been hit by a “fake sextortion” online scam, which is aimed at embarrassing victims into paying up.
Ms Dalziel received a ransom email at the weekend, saying malware had been installed on an adult website.
Unless $1000 was paid in Bitcoin, she was told a video of her supposedly using the X-rated website would be sent to her friends.
The Fake-tortian scam is well-known, with Netsafe receiving more than 300 reports of it in the past week.
Ms Dalziel said she knew it was a scam. She hadn’t visited any adult sites and had coincidentally received a tweet from a friend about it before the bogus email landed.
She talks about the scam in her weekly column in The Star today (page 13).
“I knew it was a scam from the start. But it created the impression that they could take control of the person’s computer and use the webcam,” Ms Dalziel said.
“But it could be frightening to some people.” Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said while there had been a large spike in the number of reports, they had not heard of anyone paying up.
“Netsafe has received more than 300 reports from people who have been affected by this type of fake sextortion scam in the past week.”
He said there would likely have been more that had gone unreported. While the threats were alarming, the scammer could not access your computer, he said.
“Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods and it’s important that everyone takes steps to keep themselves safe.”
If you receive an email like this, Netsafe recommends to delete and mark it as spam, and change your passwords on any accounts that may have been compromised.
•For more information, visit netsafe.org.nz/faketortian-email-scam/