How does webcam blackmail work?

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For several years now, organised gangs of scammers mainly from the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, the Philippines, etc have been running these webcam video scams on the Internet. Initially on dating sites, they now operate on general social networks like Facebook and on professional social networks like LinkedIn or Viadeo.

The first contact with the scammers

Whether on dating sites (all sites are affected) or social networks, the scam is established in the same way. A person with an attractive profile will contact you. On dating sites or social networks, false businesses or personal profiles are created to make you believe it is a valid profile, located near you...

Hundreds of scammers, mostly from foreign countries, lurk behind these fake profiles . They are involved in various types of scams (video blackmail, phishing, inheritance scams, lottery scams, romance scams, etc).

By creating all kinds of female or male profiles with fake pictures, the illusion is perfect and the scam establishes first contact via these different platforms.

The webcam video blackmail set-up

From the first contact, the scammer will initiate a conversation and pretend to be a man or a woman depending on their target's preferences. Through conversations, they will retrieve information about the victim (surname and first name, town, name of children, etc). Based on this initial information, ,in parallel with the conversation, they will look for additional information that can be found about the victim on the Internet (phone number, address, company name, list of Facebook friends, professional contact lists on Viadeo, LinkedIn, etc).

Throughout the conversation, the dialogue may be  "naughty" and move towards a conversation via webcam video. As they use pre-recorded video streams, the victim thinks they are contacting a real person via webcamand is tempted by a naughty virtual game between adults. During the video conference, the scammers record the webcam stream of the victim so they have a private video of them.

It is after getting a video of their victim and enough personal information about them thatthe scammer may finally reveal their true intentions and begin the blackmail.

Collecting personal information

In the time of social networks and online dissemination of all kinds of different personal information, it is easy for a determined and malicious scammer to find personal information about a particular person.

On social networks like Facebook, with a public profile or misconfigured privacy settings, the scammer will have easy access to your photos, the identity of your friends, family members, colleagues and the name of your employer.

On professional social networks like Viadeo or Linkedlnthey can find your full CV, business contacts, company name, etc.

Other personal information about you distributed by others is also available via various online services (yellow pages, white pages, reverse directory, etc).

All the information gathered will be used by the scammers to scare you and escalate their blackmail attempts.

Fear is a scammer's best ally.

Once in possession of a private video that exposes the victim in an intimate way (nudity, masturbation, etc) and specific personal information, the scammer then has plenty of time to set up the blackmail and  request the payment of money in exchange for not spreading the video to your contacts or online.

Do not give in to emotional blackmail which wants you to believe that the money paid will be used to treat a sick sister, to buy a plane ticket, to meet you, etc.

Read more: The dangers of webcam scams for victims