A joint operation to crack down sex racket
Interpol announced the arrest of 12 individuals under suspicion of core members of transnational sextortion ring.
The arrests happened in July and August because of a joint investigation done by Interpol’s cybercrime division and police in Singapore and Hongkong.
Under the Banner #YouMayBeNext, supported by 75 INTERPOL member countries and 21 private and public entities, the campaign focuses specifically on sextortion, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), and ransomware attacks.
In an example of the challenges these cyber attacks represent, international police operations supported by INTERPOL has found and tracked down transnational sextortion ring that was able to extract around USD 47,000 from targets.
As of now, the investigation has tracked 34 back to the syndicate.
What is sextortion?
Sextortion is considered a criminal act and is a form of sexual exploitation that includes harrassing an individual, either via threat or manipulation, into making sexually explicit content and sending it over the internet.
The suspects reached out to potential victims through online dating and sex platforms, then lure them into downloading a malicious mobile app and trick them into “naked chats.”
The suspects used this app to hack victim’s phone contact lists, then threaten victims by blackmailing to leak their nude videos to their relatives and friends.
The victims of the sextortion racket are mostly from Hongkong and Singapore.
Raymond Lam Cheuk Ho, Acting Head of the Hong Kong Police’s Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau said:
“We conducted a proactive investigation and in-depth analysis of a zombie command and control server hosting the malicious application, which – along with the joint efforts by our counterparts – allowed us to identify and locate individuals linked to the criminal syndicate.”
Besides this, Interpol has warned about a surge in sextortion incident in the recent years, the rise has been aggravated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It mentions the risks of the sextortion, just a click away on a malicious link or an intimate video/picture to someone can expose users to sextortion threats.
Last year, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) alarmed about a sudden rise in sextortion complaints since the start of 2021. As per the experts, the attack has caused financial losses of more than $8 Million until July 2021.
The FBI got more than 16,000 sextortion complaints until July 2021, most of the victims fall between the age of 20 and 39.
How to be safe from sextortion?
Security affairs reports the following measures to stay safe from sextortion threats:
- NEVER send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are or who they say they are.
- Do not open attachments from people you do not know. Links can secretly hack your electronic devices using malware to gain access to your private data, photos, and contacts, or control your web camera and microphone without your knowledge.
- Turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when not in use.
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