A sextortion email scam is a type of phishing attack. Victims are coerced to pay a ransom in bitcoin to prevent a scammer from sharing compromising content of them visiting adult sites with their contacts.
At 76,741 reported cases in 2020 (43,101 reported cases in 2019), the FBI 2020 Internet Crime Report says extortion ranks in the top three most common internet scams.
How the Scam Works
Scammers typically obtain email addresses and sometimes passwords from data breaches. They’ll claim they hacked your computer, used your webcam to record you watching pornography, and threaten to share the images or videos with your contacts unless you pay them in bitcoin.
Many people get anxious when they receive an email containing old passwords as “proof” that they have been hacked. However, according to the FTC, it’s a scam. Do change your password if you’re still using the same one.
Watch out for these red flags in a spam email:
- Poor grammar and spelling mistakes.
- No details about what site(s) you supposedly visited.
- No evidence to prove they have compromising images or videos of you.
- The email doesn’t mention your name.
- It looks like the email came from your email address.
Example of Sextortion Email
I am sorry to inform you but your device was hacked.
That’s what happened. I have used a Zero Click vulnerability with a special code to hack your device through a website.
A complicated software that requires precise skills that I posess.
This exploit works in a chain with a specially crafted unique code and such type of an attack goes undetected.
You only had to visit a website to be infected, and unfortunately for you it’s that simple for me.
You were not targeted, but just became one of the many unlucky people who got hacked through that webpage.
All of this happened in August. So I’ve had enough time to collect the information.
I think you already know what is going to happen next.
For a couple of month my software was quietly collecting information about your habits, websites you visit, websearches, texts you send.
There is more to it, but I have listed just a few reasons for you to understand how serious this is.
To be clear, my software controlled your camera and microphone as well.
It was just about right timing to get you privacy violated. I have made a few pornhub worthy videos with you as a lead actor.
I’ve been waiting enough and have decided that it’s time to put an end to this.
Here is my offer. Let’s name this a “consulting fee” I need to get, so I can delete the media content I have been collecting.
Your privacy stays untouched, if I get the payment.
Otherwise, I will leak the most damaging content to your contacts and post it to a public website for perverts to view.
You and I understand how damaging this will be to you, it’s not that much money to keep your privacy.
I don’t care about you personally, that’s why you can be sure that all files I have and software on your device will be deleted immediately after I receive the transfer.
I only care about getting paid.
My modest consulting fee is 1650 US Dollars to be transferred in Bitcoin. Exchange rate at the time of the transfer.
You need to send that amount to this wallet: 1KB6Z5J6Z6etx2J3AhWrEcUGyVUcBw9Rpe
The fee is non negotiable, to be transferred within 2 business days.
Obviously do not try to ask for help from the law enforcement unless you want your privacy to be violated.
I will monitor your every move until I get paid. If you keep your end of the agreement, you wont hear from me ever again.
Take care and have a good day.
There are many variations of the above email, but the risk is just the same.
What to Do if You Receive a Sextortion Email?
- Stay calm and don’t reply to the email.
- Don’t pay the scammer any money.
- Don’t click on any links in the email or open any attachments.
- Delete the email.
In addition, report it to the following organizations:
- The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center – ic3.gov/Home/FileComplaint
- Federal Trade Commission – ReportFraud.ftc.gov
- BBB Scam Tracker – bbb.org/scamtracker
The Better Business Bureau has resources to help consumers and businesses. You can report a scam (whether you’ve lost money or not), file a complaint against a business, and leave a review of a business you’ve used.
Visit our blog for more tips and scam alerts.