'You're all mine': Warning over online 'sextortion' blackmail scam

·3-min read

More than 30 women in Victoria have been victim to a disturbing blackmail scam, where predators gain access to victim's accounts and use photos and videos against them.

The "sextortion" scam, as the Victoria Police referred to it, dates back to July 2019 and detectives from the Cybercrime Squad are investigating the series of reports.

The scam targets women and it then eventuates into blackmail.

A victim will be contacted by a 'friend', saying they have been locked out of a social media account and that they have been nominated to receive a verification code to unlock their friend's account.

At least 34 women in Victoria have been targeted in the scam which evolves into blackmail. Source: Getty Images, file
At least 34 women in Victoria have been targeted in the scam which evolves blackmailing social media account owners. Source: Getty Images, file

However, instead of the friend's account, it unlocks the victim's account, Victoria Police warned.

Once the offender has access to the victim's social media account, they search for any "compromising or intimate" images or materials, which the predator can use to blackmail the victim.

Police said the blackmail may request to move to another online platform and send through more intimate images.

So far, 34 victims have been identified and police said it appears the offender is not known to the victims.

Screenshots provided by the police show the offender starts off the conversation with "Hey question" and then a smiley face.

In one of the messages sent to a victim, the offender says "you're all mine".

Victoria Police warned people on social media should never pass on an authentication code for an account and if they receive a request like this, to call their friend and verify the authenticity of the request.

The scam asks victims to send through an authentication code, which unlocks the victims accounts. Source: Victoria Police
The scam asks victims to send through an authentication code, which unlocks the victims accounts. Source: Victoria Police

"Do not assist any user to gain access to an account, even if it appears to be a known friend," the police said. 

"Account recovery can only be done by the account user directly with the platform administrator."

Any compromised accounts should be reported.

'Sextortion' scams are under-reported, police say

Detective Inspector Boris Buick, from the Cybercrime Squad said anyone who is subject to "concerning behaviour" online should contact the police to discuss the circumstances.

"Anyone who contacts police will be supported and treated with respect, courtesy and dignity," he said.

"We believe that these matters are under-reported and that can be for a range of reasons, including fear or embarrassment, and sometimes feeling unsure if an offence has occurred or if they will be believed."

Victoria Police said it does not appear that the victims are known to the predator setting up the scam. Source: Victoria Police
Victoria Police said it does not appear that the victims are known to the predator setting up the scam. Source: Victoria Police

He added Victoria Police is "committed" to investigating matters like this scam and holding the offenders to account.

The police urge people to consider the data stored or sent through social media platforms, as they can be accessed by hackers.

"And as is your choice, if you do choose to share intimate pictures via social media accounts, we would encourage you to review your privacy settings and ensure they’re as stringent as possible," Det Insp Buick said.

"We encourage anyone who has been subject to concerning behaviour such as this to speak to police – even if you do not wish to make a formal report, we can still assist you in seeking further support."

Victoria Police are urging anyone with knowledge of these incidents, or those responsible, to contact Crime Stoppers, with on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report.

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