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2 New Cybersecurity Training Videos: Romance Scams and Extortion Emails
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2 New Cybersecurity Training Videos: Romance Scams and Extortion Emails

Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir
4 min read ∙ Mar 3, 2022

February shouldn’t be the only month designed for love and fun just because it has Valentine’s day in it. Every month is the ideal time to discuss the sensitive topic of romance scams and extortion emails, which just so happen to be the topics of two of our recent cybersecurity training videos.  

Cybersecurity training videos still - romance scams cover image. Woman outside holding phone receiving love emojis and hearts.

Searching for the one and only with the help of the internet and its various dating platforms, has become the norm. It has also become a platform for scammers to target unsuspecting victims, searching for love or some fun. With our two new cybersecurity training videos we want to raise awareness about these important, yet sensitive, topics.

Romance scams and extortion emails, are a profitable part of the cyber-criminal industry. Cybercriminals rely on the shame and taboo of falling for such scams. Like with any phishing attempts, many of those scams are quite elaborate and therefore it is important to know the signs.

Still from AwareGO's new cybersecurity awareness videos. Woman with dark hear in bedroom wearing a white towel. She is holding a purple hairdryer and doing something on her laptop.
Even though extortion emails are phishing it is best to use a camera cover on your computer just to be safe.

New Cybersecurity Training Videos: Extortion Emails

Extortion emails are more common than you think. Our new cybersecurity training video raises the awareness and informs people about this type of phishing. Yes this is a type of phishing. The cybercriminals have cast a wide net by sending these emails at random. They hope that by chance some people will fall for their scam. The emails contain threats of releasing embarrassing pictures or sensitive information about the recipient unless they pay the hush money. These emails are often called sexstortion emails. Their threats often involve claims of information or images about the recipient’s alleged sexual behavior.

A still from AwareGO's new cybersecurity training videos. Laptop showing an example of an extortion email that says that the sender has been monitoring the recipients webcam and wants payment in bitcoin in exchange for not releasing sensitive content.
Extortion emails like these are a type of phishing and are sent to thousands of recipients at once.

These types of phishing attempts are a common scam. The criminals are simply phishing for money. They don’t have any incriminating or shameful content in the first place. The scammers rely on their victims’ willingness or need to protect their reputation – and as such are often successful. Knowing about these types of online scams is important. What our cybersecurity training videos teach is that nothing bad will happen if we report these kinds of emails as phishing and send them straight to the trash where they belong.

New Cybersecurity Training Videos: Romance Scams

When we fall in love, it’s as if we are seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses. We get butterflies in our stomach and an optimistic outlook for the future. But sometimes things just aren’t what they seem and that applies to online dating as well. Romance scams are a profitable criminal industry. Scammers create fake profiles on online dating platforms and lure victims into their confidence with sweet words and affection. Their aim is almost always to get money, but can also be about getting the victim to give up sensitive data that can be used for identity theft.

Still from AwareGO's new cybersecurity training videos about romance scams. Woman's hands in living room, holding a smart phone with a dating app open declaring a match between her and another user.

It is estimated by the FBI that romance scammers defrauded victims out of around $133 million dollars in 2021 alone. The scammers often persuade their victims to send them money because of some accidents or issues, starting slowly but gradually asking for more and more. 

These kinds of scams can happen to anyone, no matter their age, gender or sexual orientation. Our cybersecurity training videos about romance scams and the complimentary reading, address the issue broadly, with the aim to educate people about the signs of romance scams.

Fostering a Culture of Understanding

Raising awareness and knowledge about romance scams and (s)extortion emails is important for society, as it is one of the big taboos when it comes to cybercrime. Romance scams and (s)extortion emails are a big criminal industry that relies on people not talking about it, making their victims suffer in silence and shame. Even if these topics may be taboo we have chosen to address them in our cybersecurity training videos.

Still from new cybersecurity training videos from AwareGO. Woman with dark hear wearing light jeans and red shirt, standing by kitchen table looking worried at her laptop. She is reading an extortion email.

When creating a cybersecure workplace, fostering a culture of understanding is the key. That goes beyond the workplace. Having employees learn about these types of scams is more than simply a chance for them to acquire knowledge about the different types of phishing and scams that are out there. It increases employees’ cybersecurity awareness both in their private lives and their professional ones. Giving people training that has implications in their personal lives is not just going to help you create a better security culture within the workplace. It shows that you care about your social responsibility and that you take it seriously. 

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Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir
4 min read ∙ Mar 3, 2022

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