Cybercriminals are improving their sextortion techniques by using better technology and new victim targeting tricks, according to new research.
In their report Sextortion in the Far East, California security company Trend Micro say these criminals – who target people on dating and social sites – have created a new modus operandi for their sextortion scams.
The sextortion process already requires a degree of technical know-how, and has recently been made more complex by the utilisation of information-stealing smartphone apps, their research says.
Previously, cybercriminals would create a fake female social media profile, add their victim as a friend on the network, then ask to move the conversation to a video call platform (such as Skype) for cybersex.
After recording explicit videos of the target, the fraudster then blackmails the victim – saying they will post the videos online, or send it to their friends and family.
However Trend Micro’s research says cybercriminals have recently started pretending to have audio problems whilst chatting on Skype, then convincing the victim to download and install an Android app to fix the problem.
This app contains malware which then steals all of the victim’s contact information, and sends it to the person perpetrating the fraud.
At this point, the fraudsters will threaten to publicly share the explicit video on a video-sharing site (like YouTube) or send it to all the victim’s phone contacts, unless they receive payment to keep quiet.
The victim’s money is then sent to a money mule, who transfers the funds to the mastermind’s account.
Cybercriminals have also learnt to outsmart banks by creating several accounts for each attack.
This new information comes after police arrested members of sextortion gangs, who dished on their newest techniques for defrauding unsuspecting victims.
In April 2014, INTERPOL and the Philippine National Police arrested over 58 sextortion crime ring operators in the Philippines.
Japanese police also arrested two men from a sextortion gang, who had stolen over $29,000 from 22 victims over a two month period.
One of the challenges in catching these criminals comes from the fact that victims are often too embarrassed to report sextortion, especially in nations that consider promiscuity humiliating.
Trend Micro said: “The sextortion schemes we uncovered are complex operations that involve people across cultures and nations working together to effectively run a very lucrative business.
“These once again prove that cybercriminals are not just becoming more technologically advanced– creating stealthier mobile data stealers, using complex stolen data drop zone infrastructures, and outsmarting banks to better evade detection–they are also improving their social engineering tactics, specifically targeting those who would be most vulnerable because of their culture.”
For more information about sextortion, and details on how these cybercriminals evade detection, and steal the information of their victims, check out the full report here.
Also download a copy of our Scammers and Online Dating Fraud report below for more information.