Monday, 04 September 2023 12:12

MP Phillip Paulwell refuses extortionists demands for US$50,000 to not release personal information

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FORMER Cabinet member Phillip Paulwell is urging Jamaicans to pay keen attention to their cybersecurity after his phone was cloned and his bank accounts hacked by scammers who are demanding US$50,000 from him to not make his information public.

Paulwell on Sunday confirmed reports that he found out his bank accounts had been hacked and a substantial amount withdrawn after he attempted to make a withdrawal at a local financial institution.

He said checks with other financial institutions at which he holds accounts showed that attempts had also been made to hack them.

Days later he was contacted through a number he did not know with a male voice telling him that his phone had been cloned and they had access to his e-mail, pictures, personal and professional messages.

"Subsequent to that I have been receiving threats that these persons now have 20 years of my e-mails, WhatsApp, and other things on my devices and that they intend to scandalise me for having sex with underage girls. I can say definitively that I have never had a relationship with anyone who is underage," Paulwell said.

He said the caller threatened to make public the information, including correspondence with his clients, unless he deposited the US$50,000 to a Nigerian account which was provided.

"Again, my response is that all my legal work is above board," said Paulwell, who is also an attorney.

According to Paulwell, he contacted the local police while people in the United States, who were threatened by the extortionist, reported the matter to American law enforcement agencies.

"My phones have been subject to scrutiny and I am determined that these culprits must be brought to book. I am now aware of who some of them are and the links that they might have to local people. We are going to be pursuing those matters and I intend to ensure that they are fully prosecuted," said Paulwell, who is the Member of Parliament for Kingston Eastern and Port Royal and the Opposition spokesman on energy.

He said that the international investigators traced the account which he was asked to pay the money to the United Kingdom and shut it down with some US$600,000 already in it.

"And they told me that one payment to that account was for US$42,000 from an account in Jamaica," added Paulwell.

He said he refused to pay and on Sunday received reports from political and personal colleagues that they had been sent an e-mail with images which were on his phone.

Paulwell said, despite the threats, he has no intention giving in to the demands from the extortionists.

"Absolutely not, I believe that we need to resist these people. In fact, it is likely that more and more of this is going to happen now that there has been a clampdown on scamming. I believe more and more people are going into hacking as they believe that they can use this against people.

"I believe we need to resist that and I will resist them especially because I know there is nothing illegal on my devices," declared Paulwell.