Boy Meets Girl On Webcam – Not Always A Happy Ending
By Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant, Sophos
# And when two lovers woo
They still say, “I love you.”
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by. #
The famous song Dooley Wilson sang in Casablanca may have got it wrong. For the age-old romantic story of “Boy meets girl” has surely become an awful lot more complicated now the internet has come along.
At least, that’s what male computer users in Singapore are discovering.
We’ve warned readers before about some of the dangers involved in finding love online. Such as the true story of the Facebook blind date that turned into a supermarket robbery.
Now, people are being warned about another risk of finding love in the online world – webcam extortion.
But it’s not the familiar headline of perverted hackers blackmailing young women into stripping in front of the camera.
This time the tables have turned, and it’s *men* who are being victimised by *women*, in a peculiar twist on traditional webcam extortion. Singapore’s Police Force has warned of femme fatales befriending potential victims on sites such as Facebook and Tagged.com.
The women enter steamy webcam conversations with their prey, where they strip and encourage their male victim to do the same.What the man doesn’t realise, as he feverishly rips his clothes off and agrees to engage in various sexual acts in front of the camera, is that his female love interest is secretly recording everything that’s going on.
The male victim is then blackmailed for money by the woman who threatens to circulate the compromising photographs and videos.
Ouch! That must put a dampener on the evening.
The Singapore Police Force says it has seen a five-fold increase in the number of reported cases of such web extortion – over 50 in 2012, compared to 11 the previous year.
Here is a summary of their tips to avoid you becoming the next man to be duped in such a fashion:
-Always be wary of strangers befriending you on social networks. If they’re suddenly showing a romantic interest in you, ask yourself honestly if it’s likely that they’ve selected you for online love out of the billions of other internet users.
-Never put yourself into a compromising position on your webcam. In short, keep your clothes on.. as you can’t be sure if the person at the other end isn’t making a video recording. At the same time, you shouldn’t give away too much personal information to someone you don’t really know.
-If anyone does ever attempt to extort money from you online, don’t pay them. Contact the police instead. You may be embarrassed about the mess you have got yourself into, but the authorities are the right ones to investigate and (hopefully) bring the culprit to justice.
The threat doesn’t just lie with webcam blackmail either. You can imagine how a man, believing he is being seduced online by a sexy woman, might be all too eager to click on a link she suggests or run a malicious program on his computer. Before he knows it, his computer could be under the control of a hacker.
Be careful out there, and keep your trousers on chaps.
Author bio: Graham Cluley is Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos http://www.sophos.com and he wrote this for Sophos Naked Security: http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/02/18/blackmail-webcam-strippers/