Another warning about the importance of online security has been issued after a Boston woman was targeted by a frightening blackmail attempt.
Boston Council has revealed that an intimidating email was sent to Rachel Kirby - who is better known as Boston in Bloom and Boston Big Local stalwart Rachel Lauberts - in a bid to get her to part with cash.
The email told that her mailbox had been hacked, her operating system infected with a trojan virus, and all information - including emails, contacts, financial details, pictures, videos and online history - harvested over a six-month period.
Rachel said it was an old account that she did not often use under her former name of Rachel Deavin, but the blackmailer confirmed the password for it.
The blackmailer also claimed to have had control of Rachel’s computer camera and threatened to send all her contacts a captured image of her, synchronised with the “intimate content site” she was allegedly watching unless she paid $823 into a bitcoin account.
The message went on: “You have a very wild imagination, I tell you! I think that you do not want all your contacts to get these files, right?
“If you are of the same opinion, then I think that $823 is quite a fair price to destroy the dirt I have created.”
Rachel said: “There is a deadline for me to pay up, and then if I don’t, contacts from that old account will receive an image the blackmailer says will be created - a created image no doubt aimed at embarrassing me.
“I have nothing to hide and will obviously not be paying the blackmailer - I don’t even know how to use a bitcoin account.
“It is a very horrible thing to happen. I felt violated. Some people might panic and just pay.
“I think this was just a phishing email, but, because it had my old password it could be convincing.
“I thought that if it were all true my bank account would have been emptied and I would have at least been emailed a webcam picture of me as further proof.”
Rachel reported the blackmail bid to the police and her own research led her to https://haveibeenpwned.com/ which revealed her account details had been sold twice.
“I do change my password frequently, and in this case it was an old password which was being used. It does highlight the need for people to change their passwords,” said Rachel.
Helpful information to avoid online fraud can be found by calling 0300 123 2040.
Richard Steele, Boston Borough Council’s data protection officer, said: “This type of phishing email has been doing the rounds and people should never meet the blackmailer’s demands.
“They almost certainly will not be in possession of all they claim, even if they can demonstrate they have your password.
“It does make sense to change passwords, have different passwords for different accounts and make sure they are strong - a random mix of letters, numbers and punctuation is best.”