Millions of people worldwide have received sextortion scam emails in 2020 asking for bitcoin. These bitcoin sextortion schemes sometimes include recipients’ passwords to make the threat more real. The authorities have advised what to do if you receive a bitcoin sextortion email.
Bitcoin Sextortion Scams Proliferate Globally
The number of people targeted by bitcoin sextortion scams in 2020 has increased rapidly. According to an analysis by British security company Sophos, millions of people recently received sextortion scam emails in the week it analyzed.
“In fact, the number was probably more like tens or even hundreds of millions,” Sophos senior threat analyst Paul Ducklin wrote, adding that some people received between two and five different varieties of this scam. He explained, “The scams exploited global botnets on compromised PCs to dispatch millions of spam emails to recipients around the world,” elaborating:
Vietnam, Brazil, Argentina, the Republic of Korea, India, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Colombia, and Peru are the top 10 countries where these compromised computers were used to dispatch the spam messages.
The cybersecurity firm found that 81% of the millions of sextortion scam messages it analyzed were in English, 10% in Italian, 4% in German, 3.5% in French, and 1.2% in Chinese.
What Is Sextortion and Examples of Sextortion Emails 2020
Sextortion is a widely used form of online blackmail where a cyber scammer threatens to reveal intimate images or videos of someone online — often to their friends, family, work colleagues, or social media lists — unless they pay a ransom quickly. The scammer often asks for payment in cryptocurrency, particularly bitcoin.
A sextortion mail scammer may claim to have compromised your computer, or other electronic devices, threatening that your webcams have been recording you watching sexual content. “I know pretty much everything about you. Your entire Facebook contact list, phone contacts along with all the online activity on your computer,” the scammer may write. Another sextortion mail may say: “the last time you went to see porn material on webpages, my spyware was activated inside your personal computer which ended up logging a lovely video footage of your masturbation simply by activating your cam.”
Sophos also provided some examples, such as “We made a video of you on a porn site with the screenshots and the webcam footage side-by-side” and “We also used this malware to film you via your webcam and to take screenshots of your browser.” Sophoslabs security researcher Tamás Kocsír pointed out:
If you are worried about becoming the target of a sextortion scam, disable or cover the camera on your computer.
To make the threat more real, some sextortion mail may include your full or partial passwords as proof that there is actually malware on your computers. One of Sophos’…