locally owned since 1854

Lower Swatara man scammed out of $1,000 over ‘personal’ photos

Press & Journal Staff
Posted 7/11/17

Press & Journal Staff

Someone apparently hacked the computer of a Lower Swatara Township man, stole compromising photographs, then threatened to post them on the resident’s Facebook page unless …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Lower Swatara man scammed out of $1,000 over ‘personal’ photos

Posted

Press & Journal Staff

Someone apparently hacked the computer of a Lower Swatara Township man, stole compromising photographs, then threatened to post them on the resident’s Facebook page unless he paid $1,000.

Lower Swatara Police Department reports said the resident told investigators he was contacted the week of June 24 via Facebook by a man who said he had several photographs showing the victim and another person in “personal situations.”

Police said the man sent $500 via Western Union and another $500 via Moneygram to an address in Tondo, a district of Manila in the Philippines. Unfortunately for the township resident, the calls for more money continued until he contacted police June 28.

The man told police his photographs were only on his computer and he did not understand how someone could have accessed them.

Frank E. Williamson Jr., the township manager and director of public safety, said the scammer appeared to have gained access when the resident clicked on a link in a phishing email. This installed a Trojan horse that allowed his hard drive to be copied.

Phishing is when a scammer uses fraudulent emails or texts, or copycat websites to get you to share valuable personal information — such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords.

A Trojan horse is a program designed to secretly breach the security of a computer.

Police told the township resident to cancel his Facebook account, and report the incident to Facebook and Western Union to open a fraud investigation. Township detectives also told the victim they doubted anything more could be done in the case.

“There are so many computer scams out there that grow and evolve daily,” Williamson said. “Ensure you have the latest anti-virus software, ensure you know the source of emails before opening them or a link embedded in them, and check the email address of the sender. Many times the email address will be spoofed to look like it is from someone you know.”

The victim is trying to get his money back through Western Union, which rarely happens, Williamson said.

He did not know how many photos were involved.

 “We have heard of cases like this before and clicking on a link that is attached to an email that is unfamiliar to you. Always ensure that you know the source sending you emails before ever clicking on an embedded link,” Williamson said.

As for prosecution, the charges would be low-grade misdemeanors, and Williamson said even if the criminal could be identified, extradition from the Philippines would never occur.

“Most times these criminals understand that for the small amount of money they extort from victims, they are sitting half a world away and they probably won’t get touched,” he said.

“This issue is that lots of small amounts of money can add up, when they are using robot/automated technology to send phishing emails out,” he added.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment