We recently received a request to become a friend on Skype from a person claiming to be Arianna. I did not confirm if this was a legitimate person but we do not have any history with this person. A quick search on Google pointed us towards an Australian warning about blackmail scams.
Users of video services, such as Skype, should be aware of a variety of scams that may use footage and images captured without your knowledge, to blackmail you. Although other online activities may be used, including online dating sites. The Australian news agency, ABC, has published a number of articles about people's experiences. We have chosen two online dating situations as examples.
Case Study 1: A man seduced by "Aleksandra" goes public to warn others (abc.net.au) (wayback). The seemingly normal man shares the details of his 3-month dialogue with scammers who assumed the alias of a Russian woman on a popular Australian dating site.
Case Study 2: A former Canberra, Australia, childcare worker admitted to a catfish scam (abc.net.au) (wayback) in which she used a fake Instagram account and dating app to trick 10 men into sending her more than $300,000.
What should you do?
There are various respected authorities that give guidance on dealing with these situations. The Australian Government suggests the following precautions:
- As always, make sure your software and systems are up-to-date, and that you are using up-to-date security software
- Be aware that anything you do on the internet, including video and voice calls, can be recorded
- Never use your webcam to video call someone you do not know
- Be cautious about people you meet online. People you meet online may not be who they seem to be.
- Revealing personal details online is extremely risky
Do you want more information? Click here to go to the Stay Smart Online (wayback) webpage.