CSM warns of ‘cyber flings’ turning into blackmail
By Digital News Asia January 7, 2014
- Beautiful girls seduce victims into performing embarrassing acts during ‘intimate’ video chat
- Threaten to disseminate footage unless victims pay anything from RM500 to RM5,000
CYBERSECURITY Malaysia (CSM) has warned the public of ‘cyber flirts’ who are part of online blackmail rings that mainly target teenaged boys and middle-aged men.
The perpetrators are suspected to be foreign nationals, most probably males with female accomplices, CSM said in a statement.
They have set up hubs in various locations, including in Malaysia, and use social networking sites like Facebook, Tagged and online video chat such as Skype, to carry out their activities.
The crime has become a serious global issue, with people losing money and risking their reputations, said CSM, the national cyber-security agency under Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. Victims are asked to pay anything from RM500 to RM5,000.
“Only four incidents of cyber blackmail were reported to our Cyber999 Help Centre in 2012, but by mid-2013, we saw an upward trend, which made us very worried,” said CSM chief executive officer Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab (pic).
“We referred the issue to the police for further investigation and so that the culprits can be dealt with accordingly.
“By the end of 2013, the number rose to 73, which is 18.5 times more. This huge increase in incidents triggered the alarm. We believe there are more incidents out there that have not been reported to us.
“Hence, we have released an alert to warn the public. Malaysians are advised to be extra careful and not to entertain online seduction attempts from women whom they know only via social media,” he added.
Based on an analysis of about 80 reported incidents, CSM believes it has identified the modus operandi of a typical cyber blackmail operation.
The perpetrator usually creates a profile on Facebook or Tagged, portraying herself as a beautiful, sexy woman purportedly from the Philippines, Japan or Korea. She would then identify a man as a potential victim and befriend that man on Facebook or Tagged.
The perpetrator would flirt with the victim and lure him to an intimate video chat using Skype. During the video chat, the perpetrator would take off her clothes and seduce the victim into performing embarrassing acts, while she secretly records the session.
The perpetrator would later play the video footage to the victim and blackmail him into remitting a certain amount of money via Western Union or a third-party bank account, threatening to otherwise circulate the video on Facebook or YouTube.
CSM said that if you fall victim to such blackmail, you should:
- Discontinue and refrain from communicating with the perpetrator. Ignore and disregard all calls, SMSes or messages from that person;
- Remove the perpetrator from all your social media friends or contact list; or put her into your ‘blocked’ list;
- Make all your social networking accounts private so the perpetrator will not be able to reach you or your friends;
- Keep all relevant data such as chat logs, screenshots and emails as evidence for reporting and prosecution purposes;
- Not pay the blackmailer as it may propagate the act;
- Lodge a police report, together with evidence for them to further investigate; and
- Make a report to CSM’s Cyber999 Help Centre for further assistance by emailing to [email protected] or by calling 1-300-88-2999 (monitored during business hours). In case of emergencies outside regular working hours, send an SMS text message to +6019 2665850.
CSM also advised Internet users in general to:
- Be aware that anything you do on the Internet, including video and voice calls, can be recorded and manipulated for malicious purposes;
- Adhere to best and ethical practices when you are on social networking sites and chat forums;
- Be very cautious about whom you they befriend online;
- Be alert and suspicious of any unusual activity on the Net, and immediately report it to the relevant authorities;
- Configure, as a preventive measure, your Skype to restrict communication to your contact list only by doing the following: Go to > Tools > Options > Privacy > Only Allow IMs, Calls etc from People on my Contact List > SAVE
- Always make sure your software and systems, including security software, are up to date; and
- Never use your webcam to make a video call to someone you do not know.
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