Danger level 6
Type: Other

A New Sextortion Scam Uses Old Passwords to Blackmail Users

Scam emails are more prevalent today than they have been before, and it is almost impossible to report all of them. The new porn blackmail scam – also known, as extortion scam – is not one we can just ignore. Most recipients of an email supporting this scam will at least break into a sweat due to two specific reasons. First of all, the email contains a real password to attract the victim’s attention. Second, it informs that the victim was recorded watching porn. The goal of the scam, of course, is to make the victim pay a ransom, and it is not small. For example, the recipient of one variant of the porn blackmail email was pushed to pay a ransom of $1,400. Without a doubt, even if money is not an issue, this ransom should not be paid, and complying with the demands of cyber criminals is a terrible idea.

There are different versions of the devious porn blackmail scam email. Most recently, these emails are using old passwords to terrorize victims, but it is known that schemers can use telephone numbers as well. According to J. Crowe, the sextortion scam allowed schemers to collect $250,000 in two weeks when it was uncovered first, but the reality is that it is difficult to say how much cyber criminals have collected using this scam. This is because many different parties are using the same trick. The victim is sent an email that reads: “I’m aware that [password] is your password.” The message informs that malware was placed on a porn website and that when the victim was watching the content on this site, they were recorded via the webcam. It is also suggested that contacts from the Messenger, Facebook, and email accounts were recorded. The goal is to convince the victim that they need to pay the ransom (e.g., $1,400, $2,900, $3,200, $4,000) in Bitcoins to a specific Bitcoin Wallet. In many cases, a specific period in which the payment must be made is included as well.

According to the porn blackmail email, if the ransom is paid, the video is deleted. If it is not paid, the video is sent to personal contacts. This, without a doubt, can intimidate anyone. If schemers have a legitimate password, the rest can be true as well, right? Well, the password is most likely to be old and no longer used. In fact, most versions of the sextortion scam are using passwords and email addresses that were leaked almost 10 years ago, and so it is unlikely that they can be used to hack accounts. That being said, new data leaks occur very frequently, and so it might be a matter of time before newer passwords are exploited to scam users. This is why users need to stay informed about the latest security issues, as well as create strong passwords that cannot be cracked using brute force. Brian Krebs debates that the same method could be exploited by those operating tech-support scams as well.

So, were you recorded watching porn? That is unlikely to be the case; however, you should never brush off an attempt to scam you. If you have become a victim of a sextortion scam, it is strongly recommended that you contact your local law enforcement department immediately. Even if you recognize the scam right away, you want to report it so that others could not be tricked into paying the bogus ransom. If you need help reporting the scam, post a comment below, and we will assist you shortly. The next step you should take is to ensure that all of your accounts are safe. Create strong passwords to keep them safe. It is also a great idea to stay on top of your virtual security, and you can do that by implementing reliable security software and keeping yourself informed about the latest security threats and data breaches.

The intimidating porn blackmail email scam is made possible because of phishing, and there are ways to protect yourself against it. First and foremost, you have to be careful about the emails you receive. Even if they contain your full name or familiar credentials, you should never disclose personal information, passwords, and similar data. You should NEVER click on links and open attachments sent to you in strange emails either. Finally, you have to be cautious about the websites you visit and the information you share via them. As for sextortion; if you do not want to become a victim for real, you should refrain from sharing compromising images and videos. It is also a great idea to disconnect or cover your webcam when it is not in use.


Crowe, J. July 18, 2018. New Sextortion Scam Flaunts Real Passwords, Rakes in $250,000 in Two Weeks. Barkly.
Krebs, B. July 12, 2018. Sextortion Scam Uses Recipient’s Hacked Passwords. KrebsonSecurity.

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