Sextortion Scam: Blackmail scam emails that demand Bitcoin

What is Sextortion? 

Sextortion is a scam via email or any other medium to blackmail the victim and threaten to expose private data like photos, web browsing history, chat history, etc. Generally, these sextortion scammers send emails & claim that they have gained access to the victim’s device, installed a Trojan virus by logging into an email account. To make this claim appear genuine, the attacker will usually send the email with the subject “Payment from your account.” The sexual leverage is then applied, claiming that your activity is being recorded through the controller of your devices like camera, microphone, etc. The attacker could threaten the victims to expose the private data in public if the payment is not made to the bitcoin address mentioned in the email. 

In recent times, we have seen that sextortion scam is still active, and scammers are demanding USD 1550 through the bitcoin wallet by threatening the same activities mentioned above.  Below is an example of email sextortion scams

Figure 1: Revealing bitcoin wallet address

In the email, to exploit & make the situation of panic, it is mentioned that the victim has 48 hours to transfer USD 1550 to the scammer’s bitcoin wallet, identified as 1665CsfFELrfiiubFZtLsGHGuqbUz1wXcz. 

Why are hackers demanding payment in the form of bitcoins? 

Bitcoin is a digital currency that can be transferred from one person to another without using a bank or providing any identification details. Hackers are asking for bitcoins because their anonymity helps attackers stay untraceable. 

Scammer’s bitcoin wallet abuse report: 

We found this bitcoin wallet in the bitcoin abuse database with the information that total transactions made are 21 and actual bitcoins received are 0.4218701 BTC, i.e., total $13,294.76 till now. The money has never been spent, implying that might be the possibility that the attacker is waiting for more money to come. We can see from the below image. Source: https://www.bitcoinabuse.com/

Figure 2: Bitcoin wallet abuse report

Should you worry about sextortion emails? 

Sextortion email scam is an online scam that takes advantage of people’s fear that their private data will be exposed to the public. To begin with, if a sextortion email appears in your inbox, stay calm. Do not reply and do not pay money to the attackers. In addition, nobody is going to blackmail you. It’s just spam. However, it can be a clue that your data leaked during various data breaches, such as your email address. 

Recommendation from Quick Heal if you are a victim of a sextortion scam 

  • Take appropriate actions to keep your account safe 

Your account information may have been leaked online. It is advisable to change your password immediately to avoid unauthorized access to your funds. Do not worry if your password is mentioned. Presumably, it has been tracked down from a previous data breach. 

  • Stay alert! Do not give any money or other identification details to anyone. 

If you have shared any bank account details, disclose the incident to the bank. If you have transferred the money via an online money transfer platform such as bitcoin, the transaction is likely to be untraceable, and you may not get your money back. 

Ayush Puri

Ayush Puri

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