Police issues warning after increase in ‘sextortion’ emails


South Yorkshire Police has issued a warning to local residents about cyber criminals who are trying to trick victims into believing they have been filmed on their computer watching porn, then demanding payment.

The force has received 15 reports of a similar nature in the past week, with the victims being told the “footage” will be sent to all their contacts if they do not pay a fine in Bitcoin.

In some cases, the fraudsters make the threats seem even more believable by sending their message from what appears to be the victim’s own email account, and revealing the password.

Cyber Protect Officer Dannielle Lee, from SYP’s Digital Investigations and Intelligence team, said: “The emails claim the victim has been filmed on their computer watching porn and demand payment of up to $3,000 in Bitcoin.



“Scams like this are known as ‘sextortion’, which is the practice of extorting money from somebody by threatening to reveal evidence of their sexual activity. Whether or not the victim realises this is a scam, the email can be very unsettling to receive – especially when the criminals seem to know your password, are demanding high payments and have given a strict deadline. Thankfully, none of the people who have reported this scam to us has lost any money.

“Action Fraud – the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre – suspects the fraudsters may have gained victims’ passwords from an old data breach. If you have had an email like this I’d recommend you change your password as soon as possible to ensure you are secure.”

You should report all ‘sextortion’ incidents to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 situation, Action Fraud’s contact centre is currently providing a reduced service so it is recommended that reports are made online where possible as waiting times on the phone have increased.



Action Fraud has provided the following tips for how to protect yourself:

– Don’t reply to the email, or be pressured into paying: it only highlights that you’re vulnerable and you could be targeted again. The police advise that you do not pay criminals. Try flagging the email as spam/junk if you receive it multiple times.
– Perform password resets as soon as possible on any accounts where you’ve used the password mentioned in the email. Always use a strong, separate password for important accounts, such as your email. Where available, enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA).
– Always install the latest software and app updates. Install, or enable, anti-virus software on your laptops and computers and keep it updated.