Essex Police is warning people to be vigilant about a sextortion cybercrime where criminals are blackmailing victims for payment.
The force says it has been made aware of scams where criminals are emailing victims their own passwords and accusing them of access adult websites.
They then claim they have downloaded all their personal contacts and have remotely accessed their computers and filmed them on their webcams.
These criminals demand significant online payments and in cases, bitcoins, a form of electronic cash, before giving victims a deadline.
DC Steve Mersh, of Essex’s Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Criminals are sending these scary emails with the victim’s personal password details, which causes them to panic and make payments.
“They appear to be specifically targeting men on the hunch they may have accessed adult sites in the past before claiming they have previously been filmed through their own devices.
“We are urging people not to be pressured into making a payment but to protect yourself and call police.”
Action Fraud has received over 110 reports from victims who have received these emails.
The following steps can help protect you online:
* Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision – our advice is that you do not pay criminals;
* Change your password immediately and reset it on any other accounts you’ve used the same one for;
* Always use a strong and separate password and do not email the fraudsters back;
* Always update your anti-virus software and operating systems regularly;
* Cover your webcam when not in use.
If you have received one of these emails and paid, please report call Essex Police on 101 or report it online by visit www.essex.police.uk/do-it-online.
If you have not paid, please contact Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or email https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.
For more advice about fraud visit: https://www.essex.police.uk/advice/fraud/.