Hacker uses webcam to spy on, threaten man

Published: Updated:
FILE: Cyber security

FORT MYERS, Fla.- A hacker used a local man’s computer webcam to threaten him into paying up in a cyber-extortion plot, said the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities say after spending time on Skype last week, the victim closed his laptop without logging off of Skype or turning off his computer. When he went online the following day, his cell phone rang a short time later, showing an unknown number. The victim answered his phone to a stranger who called him by name.

During the conversation, the man who authorities say spoke with a distinct foreign accent and claimed to be from Syria, told the victim very specific information about his finances, his family and friends.

“He’s like, ‘I have enough information here to where if you don’t deposit $600 into an account, that I’m going to tell you about, I’m going to ruin your life,'” said the victim, who preferred not to be identified.

The hacker was able to see the victim in his home, describing the victim’s exact movements and even placing a picture of him on the computer screen.

Without warning, the phone call disconnected, but authorities say the hacker then took control of the victim’s computer.

“They definitely had control of my computer because they started speaking to me out of nowhere, through my computer speakers.”

Eventually, the hacker disengaged after realizing he was not going to be successful in his extortion plot.

It’s unknown how the hacker was able to get access to the victim’s computer, but officials say something as simple as clicking an e-mail attachment, visiting an infected website, accepting a stranger’s “friend” request, or “connecting” on a business networking site could make you vulnerable.

Remember to always log out of your social media accounts, use strong antivirus software, and choose hard to crack passwords for user and online accounts.

If you have been the victim of a fraud or a scam, contact the LCSO fraud line at 239-258-3292.

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