Singaporean men who have sexy online video interactions with strange women may end up being blackmailed after they take off their clothes.
As in many webcam sex-chat situations, the woman first begins to strip down and encourages her correspondent, who is also on video, to follow suit, or even to perform lewd acts. But unbeknown to him, all of his actions are being recorded.
Once the woman, or the people she works for, has the compromising footage, she demands cash in exchange for not circulating the embarrassing footage.
According to Singaporean police, this type of extortion scam, which often begins on Facebook or the rival social-networking site Tagged.com, increased nearly 500 percent over the past year. Fifty such incidents were reported in 2012, compared to 11 in 2011.
Men have been using webcams and compromising photos to prey on both women and men for years; TechNewsDaily has reported on it several times. But in most instances, the blackmailer only wants more photos.
In this case, the blackmailer is a woman (possibly working with other people), and she just wants cash.
It's important to remember that one can never be 100 percent certain an individual is who they say they are online.
Avoid befriending strangers online, and, as Graham Cluley at Sophos' Naked Security blog warns, be wary if they suddenly seem romantically interested. Many scams, for money or salacious images, begin this way.
That's why it's also a good idea to simply not strip in front of a webcam. You may think you know who's watching, but they may not be the only one. That's a lesson the movie "American Pie" taught us in the 1990s.
If you do find yourself being blackmailed, call the cops. Even if you do pay, there's no guarantee the criminals will hold up their end of the bargain; after all, they're criminals.