Email ransom frauds leading to suicides

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Imagine one fine day an email pops out on your screen and presents itself to be from a friend or colleague. But when you click on it, that leads you to a string of vicious threats to destroy your life until a ransom is paid.

Well, this is not a storyline from a Hollywood movie of tech genre or a TV series on Netflix.

All this is actually happening to people living in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

News is out that a bunch of emails is doing rounds on the internet which explain that you have been caught viewing A-rated sites or threatens to reveal your intimate secrets captured by your computer’s web camera.

Adding credibility to the subject line or the email content is the inclusion of some critical details such as your phone number or secret passwords for a bank or Paypal account.

To those who dare to ignore this email as just a fraud or a trick, here’s what might be in store for you next.

The email clearly specifies that if you fail to make a note of the content and pass on the ransom, the captured evidence will be circulated to all your email contacts-especially those belonging to your work, friends and family members.

So, what should be done to avoid embarrassment?

The email sender asks you to pay $1200 or £500 in Bitcoins and its said that those involved in this business were found to be making £30 million per year.

Colin Tankard, the Managing Director of Harlow based company Digital Pathways is the man behind leaking this news to the world. And Tankard assumes that the said email fraud threat might have pushed at least 13 people towards suicide in the past two years.

What’s more interesting in this email fraud saga is the fact that the emails are sent by the cybercriminals in random and in most cases, the sender doesn’t even know who is going to receive their fraudulent content filled email.

Tankard says that 33% of such emails yield fair results to the hackers as once the victim pays the cyber crooks the demanded amount, he/she is put to a ‘sucker list’ which means the person will be added to the list of people who are deemed susceptible to crime.

Mr. Tankard says that the best way to avoid falling victim to such crimes is to ignore the threat sent to them by not replying. And if you mark it as spam, then the email service provider will automatically flag off the email sender’s IP address as spam creator and will block all future correspondence from them.

Now, the big question of how the h$ll did the criminal get hold of your details?

Well, that’s simple. If you get onto the dark web, the details of more than 1000 individuals are available for just £17.

And a recent website research done by Money Guru says that details such as passwords to social media profiles, online music streaming services or email accounts can now be bought for £3 on the dark web- all as a part of Festival season discount being offered to hackers….now that’s interesting!

As people often have a habit of using the same passwords for a variety of services and thus making it easy for criminals to build a person’s online profile in a jiffy.

According to an analysis carried out by a team of researchers from Vanson Bourne, ransomware attacks are also having the potential to destroy lives. The company’s research discovered that two middle-aged women who had a fashion studio in the UK had to file for bankruptcy in 2017 when all their hard work was digitally destroyed by a malware which eventually led to a suicide of one woman in early 2018.

The technology company’s research says that ransomware attacks cost British Businesses £350 million a year, with more than 40% of the firms being attached for at least 5 times in 12 months.

So, readers of Cybersecurity Insiders are hereby requested to be vigilant of such email frauds.