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Scam emails demand Bitcoin, threaten blackmail

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The FTC uses the information it gets from people who report scams to keep close watch on trends, so we can alert you to changes. Here’s one: reports of Bitcoin blackmail scams have taken a big jump in the last few weeks. The emails say they hacked into your computer and recorded you visiting adult websites. They threaten to distribute the video to your friends and family within hours, unless you pay into their Bitcoin account. Stop. Don’t pay anything. Delete the message. It’s a scam.

Based on the timing of this spike, you may get one of these messages because your email was exposed in a recent data breach. The scammers may say they have access to your computer or webcam, or installed clever software to defeat you. That’s all talk. But they may really know one of your old – or recent – passwords, and they include it in the message to prove it. When you see that, you know it’s time to update your password on that account, and consider updating other passwords, too.

If you, or someone you know, get a message like this, please report it to the FTC at www.FTC.gov/Complaint.

Scam Tags:  Phishing Scams

Comments

It's old news, but, as you said - it's persistent. We want people to know it's out there.  

Definitely not old news. I just received 2 of these emails. One on Sat and then another one today. I came here looking to see how to report it. Complete Blackmail & Extortion. I knew it was bogus because of the inaccurate accusations they said I've done. But nevertheless, they shouldn't be allowed to do this to people. In this day and computer age you guys should be able to trace these emails.

It may be very old news for some, but for me and obviously many others, it is the first time I/we have been made aware of it. I only wish that the FTC had published this information earlier.

It isn't old news...it is still going around. I receive my threatening email just last week. It is unnerving and I'm in the process of changing all of my passwords.

I received two of these emails last week and immediately knew they were scams for a variety of reasons. I could see, however, that this might scare the heck out of somebody who happened to meet the criteria mentioned in the email.

By the way, the password they specified was one that I had used many years ago for one particular website only.

out of interest which site? mine is a default password (was) for non important sites. but nif it was just one you know who was hacked, right?

The website was Aimoo.com which is a social media site with a variety of forums covering a wide range of topics (not porn). BTW, I do have a LinkedIn account but I do not have a Facebook account.

I am one of those somebodys who got the heck scared out of him by one of those emails. I received an email with one of my old passwords in the subject line, and it claimed that it had control of my PC, had all of my info on fb contacts and had control of my webcam. (He wanted 2000 in bitcoin). Those 2 things have to be bs, because I don't have a facebook account and I use a laptop that is closed all the time (separate monitor and keyboard attached, and the webcam would not be exposed) so, unless there is some kind of technology that will allow him to access my webcam through my monitor, I can't imagine that he has anything on me in that regard. However, he did claim that he has a record of my adult website usage which I'm not proud to admit I've visited from time to time. Like an idiot, I ignored a flashing on my PC that I saw from time to time, so he did have spyware on my pc as far as I know. I contacted a firm which specializes in this and they scanned my pc (for a very big cost) and, I believe, cleaned it up so that there should be no more access from a third party. They are going to get back to me with what they found during the scan, but it could take weeks before I hear back from them. However, I still worry that what he did find he could put out on the web, because he also claims to have the info from my smartphone, which includes telephone numbers of my friends and relatives, but no email addresses. So, even though I'm feeling better about the situation after reading the remarks on this page, I still am worried about the possibility that this could still be a major embarrassment for me. My question is: if he did NOT have access to my webcam, but did know which sites I visited, can he still put that info out there? If anyone can fill me in, I would very much appreciate it.

I have received three of these emails in the last week. I was very upset until I did some research into this. These emails are frauds. Several days have passed by and none of my contacts has mentioned a word including my wife, children, family members, close friends, business associates, pastor, etc. These frauds have purchased relatively inexpensive identity theft files on the dark web which contain the outdated passwords referenced in many of the emails.

Whatever else may have happened to your computer, the scammer who sent you the email in all likelihood knows nothing about your browsing history and certainly does not have any embarrassing video of you. All the scammer knows about you is your email and an old password.

Did the scammer just claim to have phone numbers of your friends/family? Or did they actually prove it by showing you the phone numbers? Was there ANYTHING they proved that knew other than the old password? If not, don't worry about it. It's just an old email/password pair that you used over a decade ago that they got from some hacked website and they're using to try to scare you with. Everything else is just BS claims, hoping that the claims line up with the recipient enough that they'll get scared enough to take it seriously. It's all bark, no bite. Just report it to the FTC as the post says.

Hey Alex, I know what you mean! I just got my "loveletter email threat" on 5/12/2020! I didn't see it until a few hours ago though. I can't imagine that there are any videos of me, but I've been reading about this scam for the last few hours, and I just watched a YT video about the Bitcoin scam, and the letter that some lady was breaking apart piece by piece was really on target! It is a scam which we all know. She said even if people pay money, there are no guarantees that the person won't scam again. What I found weird was the password that they used. It's not my FB password though. It's another pw. I had a FB account, but I deleted it just in case. I'm not sure how they can have my phone contacts. The letter I received said if you want Proof, just respond with the word Proof and they would send the video to 5 contacts of mine. We can't live in fear, and if they send anything out to anyone about me, I'd just say that we're all fallen human beings in a fallen world, and we all need the Grace of God.

In my opinion , the reason they are saying "proof" is so you respond. When you respond now they will not only have your email address and an old password, but your full name will come up in the header of your reply. Now they know your name and the next time they email you and address you by your name it will seem ever so much more convincing. DO NOT reply and give them more ammo.

Thanks Alex. I too have visited some sites ( I Pad only) I’m scared to death that they might have something but it sounds like everyone is getting the same message whether they were on those sites or not . I hope this is truly a scam !

If they really had anything, they would attach a screenshot from your devices camera in the scam email.

Alex
Any new information? My situation is like yours only I only use a I Pad. Not sure if they can webcam and put Spy Ware on that

Friend,
it's a pure scam, they are just trying to scare people into paying. They have nothing on you except an old password from a hacked website like ebay, linked in or your bank or insurance co. They cannot by federal law record you, and this would put them at liability to federal law. and the FBI. It's pure blackmail.
Besides, the email makes no sense because most people put tape over their webcams and the password was simply bought from one of many of your old email, social media, professional or commerce websites that was hacked. Mine was empire blue cross blue shield medical. But I don't visit the websites mentioned. And if I did and they really had such info, they w ould have been asking for way more money than 2k I simply responded that the scammer must be gay if he likes watching me, and to share the video with his wife or GF since they would rather be with me than him after seeing how big I am. lol Have fun with these scammers. It's pure blackmail. Don't fall for it.
They have nothing. Banking on your gullibility.

Received one of these threatening emails with an outlook account demanding bitcoin. Filed FBI complaint.

I also received one of these emails and I sent the info to the FTC. Their input here is good to see but like the FTC advises change passwords and give nothing to these emails. Delete them.

I believe they obtained access to old passwords from a breach on LinkedIn. I would suggest either deleting that account and starting a new one, or at the least change your password.

Thanks Jbrown. I couldn’t figure out where I used that password over ten years ago with a fictitious email name that I use for non important informational sites. After you mentioned Linken.com, I looked and sure enough, that was it. I never worried about it since I don’t have camera’s on computer. Thanks Again!

Mine was an old LinkedIn password. I understand Linked in was hacked years ago and took a long time before they informed users that their passwords had been compromised. Get the emails frequently. I've kept all the bitcoin addresses and would be rapt if someone could put it out on cyberspace that how to remove bitcoin from these accounts

I was interested that they had one of my old Passwords for "non-critical" sites which ask for one. On the question of a breach, it is possible that one of those adult sites that you may have inadvertently contacted was itself a phishing scam to support the one which we now have.

Received a text message on phone yesterday. Mentioned Bit coin. Too long to read, i erased.

My honey got two of the same email too. There is a webpage called fanatics a sport’s apparel site that was hacked and they got the email addresses and passwords it appears. The website fixed the Issue but we were never notified that our information had been compromised.
So many sleezeballs trying to get something for nothing and threatening us. Thank goodness for the FTC making this announcement.

Thank you for this. Yes. I used the fanatics website a couple weeks ago to order some things and received the ransom $2000 email with password in the subject line today.

I received a scam email just like this a couple weeks ago. I reported to FBI cyber security website.

Have received 2 of the above emails.....

I received one of these scams saying they got through FaceBook and showed a sort of old password.. The due diligence of a good friend directed me to this website.. I wish there was a way to catch these people and make them pay dearly with prison time..

i haven't slept from last night with the stress, the whole day today it was like a mountain on my shoulder, thinking which account did i use the password for.
They should really be punished for this. I totally agree.

I have received 3 Of these dreadful scam emails - and one with escalating threats. In trying to send them to the FTC address, published with your scam notification, they will not send saying it is an invalid address. I’m sending the threats to: www.FTC.gov/complaint. Suggestions?

I got two of these in my spam folder. Reported them both to the FBI and FTC. They had my old password I used to use for junk accounts like magazine subscriptions, and I haven't used it much in years. But clearly the data they got had both a legitimate email and a password not used for that account.

I received 2 emails almost exactly as desribed in the above article. Email addresses are: Kirstin Garvey <cfhmargarethenk@
Emalia Hague <rpacecillatn@

mine was name Ami and when I checked the email address it's zpmmin@ it said they would release self pleasuring video unless i send $2000 bit coin to the address they give me, I reported it.

I’ve received three. All threatening to send porn to all in my address book. The first demanded $2000 in Bit Coins. They had an old password. I discarded them to the Junk Folder. I don’t remember the names used; however, 2 were male names; the 3rd was a female name.

Just got one of these threats on my personal email from: ajejesushn@ Really pretty obvious!! The last one I got was on my work email from some other yokel. This is so annoying!!

I received one of those obviously phony emails a couple weeks ago.

I have gotten 4 so far . I changed passwords on Facebook and email account. Every 2 days would get one from a different email address.

Are you still receiving those emails even though you've changed your passwords on FB and on you email account?

I received one of those emails too & they had an old password. Extremely upsetting...we hv to be vigilant and report everything.

I got one today. I have never had a computer in my bedroom. I haven’t used the password they claimed to have for 15-20 years. Still, I was absolutely shaken by the message and had to look it up. Scary

I received the similar email too. The whole content of that email was full of threatening messages. Totally shaken. Can’t even think much and gotta ask family and ex to calm me down. That instant fear that made the heart drop, hope will never go through it anymore. Thanks to FTC for the information. Felt so much better after reading.

Thank you for this info. I will file a complaint. I received 2 emails over the course of a few days and even though I know they are scams I felt threatened by the content. They are coming into my cox communications email so I think I will reach out to them too.

Thanks for this, and all your other reports. I have gotten two of these, one last year, and one last week. They definitely knew an old passwork . . .It freaked me out the first time. I knew it when I saw it last week. You guys do good work.

Got 2. I think they got the addresses from facebook. One of them was an address I used because I was in Fb jail with the address I would have usually been on. I deleted that account and another under the address i use for business mail, which the bitcoin email came under. I only use Fb messenger now...suspended my full acct...sick of Fb lies.

I received the same threat this morning. Blackmailed my business reputation if I don’t pay $2k in bitcoin. From this address: ines.jaynes@ . I reported it and took a screen shot and deleted. Scary.

I was unable to send you my information. Your site would not accept it after all the work of posting it. Why?

While this may be "old news" I have had a recent experience with this as well. I received multiple bitcoin blackmail emails about a week ago. For me the alarming part was that they had my current password. I changed it of course, and reported it as well but it makes me very uneasy.

Yep, got this same scam last week with a follow up today. It was a very old Linked In password.

I've recieved 5 in the last wek and I just put them in my SPAM folder. They all have the same title but they aree all from different names and email addresses...on an OUTLOOK account. I see the address it comes from and they are all from outlook accounts. It peeves me off more than worries me because they just keep trying to scare me into sending them bitcoins...not going to happen I assure you.

What what category of complaint should we use? There wasn’t one that was specifically for email threats

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