Doug Bedell — April 29, 2020, 1:49 pm

Security Scams: Score One for AARP


AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, is exposing an email extortion scam that can rattle the sensibilities of people old enough, indeed, to use email.

“Extortion scammers,” AARP explains, “have a valuable scare tactic at their disposal: They show in their messages that they know a password you’ve used for online accounts. They claim they’ve implanted malware on your computer that lets them capture your keystrokes, watch through your webcam and amass evidence that you, say, frequent adult websites. And they say they’ll share that information with all your email and social media contacts — perhaps with a video of you enjoying your viewing — unless you pay hush money, typically several hundred dollars in the form of Bitcoin…

“This ruse is rampant. Cybersecurity company Symantec says its software blocked almost 289 million extortion emails in the first five months of 2019. When the message does get through, it can be lucrative. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) documented 51,146 cases of online extortion in 2018, with victims suffering losses of $83.4 million.”

Receiving an email like that is unsettling, to say the least, and our hats are off to AARP for helping to oppose the tactic.

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