A hacker terrified a Lee County man when he took over his computer and tried to extort him.
Lee County sheriff’s investigators said they don’t know how the hacker got into the man’s laptop.
The victim called LCSO’s fraud hotline to report the crime. He said he was talking with a relative on Skype one night last week, and after the conversation was over, he closed his laptop without logging off of Skype or turning off his computer.
The next day, he went online. Within a minute, a number he didn’t recognize was calling his cell phone. He pick up, and a man who deputies said spoke with “a distinct foreign accent and claimed to be from Syria” called the man by name.
He also had “very specific and private information about his finances, his family and friends that could have only been known by someone who had access to his computer,” deputies said. The hacker threatened to release the victim’s personal pictures and videos if he did not pay him $600.00.
And that’s not all.
“The hacker, who repeatedly threatened to ruin the victim’s life if he disconnected the call, was apparently able to see the victim in his home as he described the victim’s exact movements, even placing a picture of him on the computer screen,” the sheriff’s office said. “Without warning, the phone conversation disconnected, but the cyber-bully — who now had complete administrative control of the victim’s computer — continued to talk to him utilizing the laptop’s microphone and speaker system.”
The hacker disengaged after deputes said he realized he wasn’t going to get the money, but the was left dazed and violated.
“Although it is unknown how the hacker intruded in on this victim’s online life, it is wise to always log out of your social media accounts, keep your operating system and software up-to-date, use strong antivirus software, turn the computer off when not in use, and choose hard to crack passwords for user and online accounts,” the sheriff’s office said.
The agency preaches caution online.
“Incidents such as this should remind us that the power of the internet can be a dangerous playground for criminals looking to extort, intimidate, or expose personal information about you, unless you pay for their silence,” the sheriff’s office said.
You can contact the sheriff’s office fraud line at 239-258-3292.