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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.

Tagged with: hacker, privacy, scam

Comments

I have been getting these periodically since October 2018. I traced the password they had to an account I used only for a couple of weeks in 2006(!) on the job posting website Monster.com. That is the only account in which I used the password the scammers had. I had to laugh--each time I received the email threat to send their alleged video to my contact list if I didn't pay up, the amount of the "ransom" was smaller!

Today, May 14, 2020, I received a scam to pay Bitcon in the amount of $2000 within one hour; otherwise, it will publish my purported porn. It had one my passwords, which meant this password of mine had been exposed. Will change password of website and email, and had deleted the fraud email by "Mono".

I got the same one today, but 24 hours to comply. Filed FTC report. The password they had is a very old one and I make new passwords up all the time. For anyone who is reading this thread, It's a good idea to change your passwords regularly if you don't already.

Same here. Just received same email demand. Damn, wish I had found that site!!!

Just received a lengthy one:
I will include it in the body of this reply:

Stating they have a recording of me... They will expose me to my contacts... Very Graphic commentary

From Ivy:
with this was the only thing I could copy from the email

1No891GFjCNU*F9hyR4WqJj7ti5gsSnbjmw

I have received a 2nd message in two days similar to all of these $3000 on bitcoin or else a video of me by spyware will be released to all my contacts fb and cell. One difference for me is that my threat is from text message by 2 different numbers.

I received one from text message on 5/24/20. Is this the new twist in this scam since the majority, if not all, of the reports out there involve email not text.

I was sent the same message to my phone as well. Figured it was a scam but still scary. Thanks for sharing. Hope these people have left you alone.

I just received the same one. Very graphic.

I received THREE e-mails for bitcoins and I filed complains with FTC.

Did the FTC respond? What action was taken against the perpetrator, if any?

I freaked out when I first got one of these emails, submitted a full report to the FTC. 10 days later I got an email reply basically saying, "We reviewed your report and think this article may help you." And it was a link to their article about spam, which I had already read. And they didn't say anything else. Not very reassuring if you ask me. I'd like to assume they don't always do almost nothing about it. Since this scam is so large and ongoing I'm betting SOMETHING is being done to track them down, or at least I hope so.

My husband received two emails in this scam. One with the original threat and demanding a Bitcoin payment, a second came with a final demand and giving him a very short response time. I so appreciate the information put out by FTC. We were real concerned about the inclusion of a password and had no idea how the scammers got it. Your information helped tremendously.

I got a similar email containing my face book password. It creeped me out.

I received the same threat - once on 4/25 and another on 4/27.

I received the same treath - once on 5/13 and another one on 5/16

Just rec'd the "bitcoin scam" email yesterday and knew it was fake due to its inacurate comments. I forwarded it to spoof@.... not having any other address to send it. I will try to resend it to your email noted in this warning. Thank you....E. Salerno

For those receiving suspicious emails it would be great if you had a forward to email , this would also give you their header information. If they think folks are so dumb they will go it, they surely won't think they will be able to read the header info.

If you report it at www.FTC.gov/Complaint, you can copy & paste the email and header into the report. When you report, there's a place to tell us what happened in your own words. That's where you can copy & paste the message. Thanks.

After I click on "Complaint" what's the next place to click - there are none specific to "BitCoin?" AND thank you for this information

I reported mine under SPAM, that's for unsolicited and fraudulent emails. Also, if you opened the email and saw how much in bitcoin they're asking you to send to them, when you fill out the report, it'll ask, "Did you lose money?" Hopefully, your answer is no. In which case it'll switch the question to, "Were you asked to pay or send money? If so, how much?" Even though they ask you to pay them in bitcoin they are still asking you to spend money to send it to them. So for example, when I got these emails they wanted $800 in bitcoin, so put in the report that you were asked to send $800 and you can explain in the report they wanted that in bitcoin.

Shoot, I didn't include the email in my complaint yesterday...can I add it? Or do I need to submit a new one?

that message box doesn't allow enough characters to include the raw message - some of the header data fields are extremely long strings of code

When go to report it on the link you provided, what category do I select? There doesn't seem to be one that is exactly for this situation. Thanks!

What is the header info and how do you get it? Comcast wanted it to and I dont know how to get it

If you click "reply" it will show the email it came from. On your phone you will have to scroll down on the page to see it.

I agree Penny! Sonic.net has a email address you can forward these kinds of emails too. The FTC should have one we can forward the emails to as well. I received one of these emails a few days ago and then another one today. The password they have in the email isn't anything I'm familiar with. I also don't have a Webcam nor do I visit any sites they mentioned in the email so I knew it was bologna. I wanted to write back, if I had $3000 do you think I'd send it to some stranger that said they have video of me doing things. Especially, when I know for a fact they don't. Because I don't do the stuff they wrote in the email. I would love to forward these emails to the FTC because my first thought was extortion, blackmail. Serious trouble there.

Despite frequent searches for fraud-reporting addresses, it is the first time I see FTC.gov/Complaint. It has been poorly advertised.

Got this about a year or so ago. They wanted $850.00 of bitcoins. It didn’t scare me until it gave me 2 of my old passwords. I knew it wasn’t true, when they said they video me. I had no camera. I remember about a few of the old sites I had been on (Google) had been hacked. Now I know who to send these too. Thanks

This is also from the data breach of (SOE) servers in 2011. A lot of decent games closed in this era because of this carnage.

I have received one of the messages with an old password shown. It would be nice to know what company had the data breach

Already had a couple of these. They are really nice, they will even give you instructions on how to give them the bitcoins, how accommodating.....Wish there was someway you guys could track them down.

I can not send to the email address you have given me~~so please tell me what to do~~thank you

You don't need to send the scam email to the FTC. You can make report to the FTC. You do not need to give your name or personal information when you report. You choose how much information to give. Go to www.FTC.gov/Complaint to report the scam.

I have to tried to send my experience to you separately without success. So here goes again -- on April 27th I received an e-mail message (from "Raquel Mahneke <kkdonalux@ ") that referred to all the requirements/demands that your earlier note mentioned. However, I did not respond to the note, but I kept it on the off-chance that I would not it later. I will send you the whole message if you want it. David Dax

This is very old news. They did have an old password of mine BTW they are very persistent. sent a followup email once a week . I ended up canceling that email account

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.

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

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