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Porn Site Blackmail Scam - That Time a Scammer Contacted Me and What I Did

Have you received an email with a subject line or content that contains an actual password you use either currently or at some point in time (likely it's one you've been using for a few years)?

The email claims that the sender has footage from your webcam of you visiting a porn site for some 'fun' and threatens to release that footage to all your contacts unless you pay a specified amount to a supplied Bitcoin account.

It also mentions your password was obtained by installing malware on a porn streaming site that basically gave the sender access to your keystrokes, desktop, and webcam.

I've received such an email twice now. I've posted the second below. The first email requested a deposit of US$7000 to said Bitcoin account. This time that number has gone down to $1000 (Rude! are they saying I can't afford $7000? Spoiler, I can't but, rude!).

The actual email I received. Password changed just in case
I'm still using it on some site I've forgotten about.

Unfortunately I was kicking myself for deleting that first email because, shortly after, I realized it was a great opportunity for an article just like this.

If you've received an email like this, all you need do is retire that password for anywhere you're still using it (just to be safe) and delete the email.

The only part of the email that is actually true is the password is probably one you used or are still using after many years. The sender simply has obtained a list of login details from sites that at some point were hacked and had their account details published to the internet. This scammer is playing a numbers game. They're hoping enough people from their list will fall for the scam to make it worth while.

Want to know if a password associated with your email address has been published online? You can check at have I been pwned?

Internet Security 101

Big companies spend a lot of money on internet security and are hacked and compromised all the time (Sony is one example that springs to mind). The $99.00 you probably spent on Internet security software isn't going to protect you if someone really wants access to your data, desktop, webcam etc.

Just like the scammers, personal Internet security is a bit of a numbers game. The odds of someone hacking you specifically are pretty low if you're just an average Joe or Jane Schmo. Anyone targeting you personally is likely someone who knows you or you have some kind of relationship with.

Protecting your computers from hacking is still important (for the very reason I mentioned in the previous paragraph). That security software you have will probably work in the majority of hack attempts, but if someone really knows what they're doing, there isn't much you can do to stop them (but that's no reason to make it easy for them either).

Spotting Internet Scams 101

The first email I received in this Porn Site Blackmail Scam I deleted within five minutes of reading it. The only reason I kept thinking about it was because I hadn't received that specific scam email before, and, as I mentioned earlier, I realized it was a great starting point for an article like this.

As far as I'm aware not a single one of my contacts has received any video of me watching porn online. If you ever get an email like this, requesting money, saying you've won a ridiculous sum of money, or you've been chosen to receive an inheritance (to name just a few possible scenarios), do a Google search. For this particular email I searched Porn Site Blackmail Scam and learnt a new word, Sextortion.

Krebs on Security came up first in my search and the resulting article outlined the details of the exact email I received. It's not the only site with information, there were plenty of them - which is a good sign, in the sense you can be confident something is definitely a scam.

Always do a search first to see if anyone else has received a similar email. Given most scams are a numbers game, you're probably going to find plenty of fellow recipients.

Use Common Sense

Any hacker who has remote access to your computer, and is able to install a keylogger to capture account login details, isn't going to waste time blackmailing money from you. They could probably cut you out altogether, login to your online banking themselves, and make that money transfer long before you even noticed the money was gone.

The main take away from this article is to not take these scam emails at face value. Question their validity with a simple Google search.

Once you've established it's probably a scam, assess whether you need to take any precautions such as updating passwords, then delete the scam email and get on with your life.

You may be tempted to send a reply but this really isn't a good idea. It may focus the scammer's attention on you, and they may actually target you more specifically, since they now know your email address is active and not an old account you never check etc.

Digital Assistant or Listening
Device for Scammers?
Finally, remind yourself that we live in the future where people are installing live, internet connected listening devices in their homes, with newer devices also supporting video cameras and video screens. These devices are called 'digital assistants' and they can be used to collect sensitive information about you... so... maybe don't have one in the bedroom whilst you're engaging in a bit of 'couple time'. (If that's concerning try reading this article from Norton: Can Smart Speakers be Hacked? 11 Tips to Help Stay Secure).

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