There has been a sharp increase in the incidence of emails threatening to expose the recipient to everybody in their contacts list, for viewing pornographic online content unless a fee is paid. The emails claim that the sender has populated the recipient’s computer with spyware which has detected the content being viewed and also – via webcam – footage of the recipient partaking in intimate acts.
Don't panic: these are mass emails sent out opportunistically and at random.
Do not respond, pay the demanded fee or click on any links in the email.
These emails – which often contain poor grammar and spelling – are sent randomly and en masse, without the knowledge of whether adult material has been viewed or not, but either way, they can result in fear and panic, especially if the recipient has indeed been indulging in what has been claimed. Some of the emails, however, include mention of one of the recipient’s passwords, making the threat seem more real. The password will almost certainly have been gleaned through criminal circulation of customer login details that have been stolen in large-scale data breaches. These username and password combinations end up in lists which are traded through criminal networks. Therefore, it is extremely unlikely that your password has been taken as a result of any kind of malware on your computer or mobile device. It does, however add a degree of credibility to the threat, making some people believe that they really have been spied on.
Additionally, some blackmail emails have your email address spoofed as the sender address to mislead you into thinking that everybody in your contacts list will be contacted by the blackmailer. Again, this will not be the case, but is done to panic you into paying the ransom.
Whilst any fraudulent email is both legally and morally unacceptable, those based on blackmail seem particularly sinister as, in this case, the victim’s reputation and potentially, moral standing, could be put at risk.
The full text of an actual email received is reproduced underneath the tips on this page.
If you receive a blackmail video threatening exposure for viewing pornographic material
- Never pay the sum demanded
- Do not respond
- Do not click on links in the email
- Don’t panic: remember that this is a mass email and your system will almost certainly not have been compromised with spyware.
- If one of your passwords has been correctly quoted in the email:
- Change your password on the account or accounts on which it applies. Please note our advice on choosing and using strong passwords, and remember that it is unadvisable to use the same password on more than one account. Consider using a password manager if, like most people, you will not be able to remember all of your different passwords.
- Contact the company or website which it refers to and let them know that your password has been used in this way so that they can investigate.
- As the email is an attempt at fraud, you can report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.co.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you are in Scotland, call Police Scotland on 101.
Actual email text
"(Actual recipient password) is one of your personal password now Lets get straight to the point. You don't know anything about me however I know you very well and you must be wondering why are you receiving this e mail, right?
I installed malware on sex videos (sex sites) and do you know what, you accessed same porn website to have fun (if you know what I mean). While you were busy watching videos, your browser started functioning as a RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) with a keylogger which gave me accessibility to your display as well as your web cam controls. Right after that, my software obtained your complete contacts from your messenger, facebook, and e-mail.
What I want?
It is simply your bad luck that I found your misdemeanor. I then gave in more time than I should have investigating into your personal life and prepared a split view videotape. First half displays the recording you were watching and next half shows the recording of your web camera (it is someone doing nasty things). Frankly, I want to destroy exactly about you and allow you to move on with your regular life. And my goal is to provide you a way out that may make it happen. These two choices are to either turn a blind eye to this e mail (not recommended), or pay me $ 1000.
What can you do?
Let’s examine these 2 options in more detail. First Alternative is to disregard this message. You should know what will happen if you take this path. I will certainly send out your video to all of your contacts including members of your family, co-workers, and many others. It doesn't shield you from the humiliation your household will have to face when family and friends find out your unpleasant sextape from me in their inbox. Wise option is to send me $ 1000. We’ll name this my “privacy tip”. let me tell you what will happen when you select this option. Your little secret remains your secret. I will erase the sextape. After you send the payment, You move on with your life and family that none of this ever happened. You'll make the payment through Bitcoin (if you do not know how all you need to do is search "how to buy bitcoin" on google search)
Amount to be paid: $ 1000
BTC ADDRESS: (long complex alphanumeric phrase quoted)
(It is cASe sensitive, copy and paste it carefully)
Important: You now have one day to make the payment. (I've a specific pixel in this e mail, and right now I know that you've read through this email message). DO NOT TELL anybody what you will be utilizing the bitcoin for or they might not offer it to you. The procedure to acquire bitcoin can take a day or two so do not procrastinate. If I do not receive the BitCoins, I will definately send out your sextape to all of your contacts including family members, co-workers, and so on. however, if I do get paid, I'll erase the videotape immediately. If you want evidence, reply with "yes!" and I definitely will send out your sextape to your 11 friends. It's a non-negotiable offer, thus don't ruin my time & yours by replying to this email."