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Brutal extortion tactic frames people for a hideous crime

Brutal extortion tactic frames people for a hideous crime
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

One of the worst cybersecurity threats now has a new, terrifying twist. We've told you about ransomware.

It's when hackers install malware onto your computer that lets them take it over. To get access returned to you, they demand money.

Now, imagine a ransomware attack that's countless times worse than not being able to use your computer. What if the attacker filled your computer with child pornography? Of course, you could be facing serious prison time for having that on your computer and, yet, there it is.

That is not just something scary to imagine. A man named Lee Phillip Rees in the United Kingdom is now in jail for doing exactly that.

His scam was multipronged, and disturbing. First, he would fool people online into thinking he was a young girl.

If he lured in a potential pedophile, he'd send them a video. If they took the bait and clicked on the porn, he'd infect their computer with a remote access Trojan.

He then posted screenshots of his victims on a website he created. He threatened that if they didn't pay him, he would expose them to authorities and the media.

Of course, his victims weren't innocent if they had first clicked on what they believed was child pornography. As it turns out, there were many of them. Police investigating the case are looking into 4,500 of Rees' online contacts.

Police discovered at least 400 ransom payments had been made to Rees, each up to $150. In total, he raked in about $61,000.

Rees pled guilty to blackmail and distributing child pornography. He's no stranger to being in trouble. In 1989, for instance, he was sentenced to probation for having child pornography.

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