Residents in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire are being warned about a cyber scam.
Amanda Large, crime prevention officer in Peterborough, said: “Emails are being sent across Cambridgeshire by criminals telling the recipient similar to the following:
“That their devices have been compromised with spyware or a key logger.
“The email will often include a part or complete password that the victim will be able to identify with, or the name of a spouse or relative all to make it appear more believable.
“The content of the email will make accusations that the victim had been viewing illegal material online, or that they have illegal files stored on their device. There will then be a demand for a bitcoin payment. Approximate cost of the blackmail if paid, £300.
“The criminal may allege that they have been monitoring the victim for weeks or months.
“The criminal may invite the victim to click on a link in order to see the material for themselves, this is nothing more than a link to a criminally controlled website that installs ransomware onto the device. A further demand for payment will be made to un-encrypt the data.
“It is unlikely that the device had already been compromised prior to the delivery of the email.
“It is highly likely that the email address and password had previously been obtained from a data breach via a website/server unbeknown to the victim and sold or shared amongst the cyber criminals.
“The accusation of possessing illegal material is malicious social engineering, it is designed to put fear into the person reading the email and to cause a reaction in this case to pay a ransom.
“It is highly unlikely that the criminal has been monitoring the email account for days, weeks or months. A number of cyber criminals are lazy and they do not desire to spend any time researching victims, they just send out blanket emails and wait for a response.
“NEVER open an attachment or click on a link to an email you are not 100% satisfied to who actually sent it.
“The advice of the National Crime Agency and UK Policing is never to pay a ransom.
“For more information: https://www.actionfraudalert.co.uk/da/242143/Extortion%20Scam.html.”