Gardaí warn about sexploitation email scam which blackmails victims out of thousands of euro

Gardaí have warned people not to engage with senders of a sexploitation scam email, which threatens to release videos of the receiver accessing online porn sites if they do not pay thousands of euro to the scam artists.

Gardaí issued the warning after a Limerick businessman contacted them about receiving the scam email last Friday.

“It’s great this man contacted us. It highlights for others that this is a scam and for people to ignore such emails,” said Sgt Ber Leetch, Crime Prevention Officer, Henry Street Garda Station in Limerick.

“Even if you know its a scam and you get one of these emails please let us know about it because then it gives gardai an opportunity to warn others about it,” she added.

“The person sending the email stated that they had a compromising video of the business owner which had been obtained from his computer and which would be shared with many if he did not pay up,” Sgt Leetch explained.

The man also received a subsequent scam phone call informing him his computer had been hacked. The caller “offered assistance for a payment, and thankfully, it was at this point that the business owner hung up”.

The businessman also ignored the bogus email.

“The (receiver) of such an email could be so profoundly concerned they might release their banking details. Don’t engage with it, ignore it and contact the gardai,” Sgt Leetch said.

Another Limerick businessman, who did not wish to be identified, said he was “shocked” when he recently received two similar emails including his correct personal password.

The sender warned the man a compromising video of him accessing “an erotic website” would be sent to their family, friends, and colleagues, if he didn’t pay €2,000 in bitcoin.

The businessman, who said he had not visited porn sites, added he was more concerned the email contained “my actual password”.

It is understood the man’s password may have been one of thousands more stolen in some previous online data breach.

“I was worried and shocked that they had it and I immediately changed my password. It looked authentic, and I’d be concerned that there are very gullible people out there.

"But, if you haven’t engaged in visiting porn sites, that’s not going to be a worry for you.”

“They are obviously playing on people’s fears,” the man added.

The email also warns the receiver that it is futile to contact the gardai as it is impossible to trace them.

The man said the language used in the email is also concerning...“You have the last chance to save your social life - I am not kidding. Don’t forget the shame and if you ignore this message you’re life will be ruined,” the email warned.

The man said: “One of the emails warned that I had a last chance to save my (social) life - I believe that’s a threat to my life, whether it’s a physical threat...perhaps not...but it’s a threat to ruin my life.”

“That is serious, if you are vulnerable it would be worse. I’m still distressed after receiving it, even though I know its a scam.”

Appealing for people not to engage with the scammers, Sgt Leetch said: “If you are alone and you get this threat, and you’re worried, always talk to someone about your concerns.”

She added it is “almost impossible to trace” those behind the scam.

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