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Is the Porn Blackmail Scam Real?

by on March 12, 2018
in Computer Safety & Support, News, Computers and Software, Blog :: 34 comments

What would you do if you received an email from someone claiming to have hacked your computer and recorded you via your webcam while you were engaged in watching porn, then threatening to send the video to everyone in your email and social media contact lists if you don’t pay a $260 ransom? Would you pay the ransom? Even if you’ve never viewed porn, what if they made the same threat to reveal the private details of all your emails?

This is exactly the situation some of our readers found themselves in recently, and they contacted us for help on how to proceed.

Here is an example of one the emails [grammatical errors left intact]:

Good Morning my friend. I represent the group of web criminals in Iran. I use this mail address because we think that you will check it. Few times ago my team put the virus on web-site with porn and as far as you clicked on a play button your system started shooting your screen and activating camera to capture you self-abusing. Eventually I mean you understand what compromising evidence Ive earned. Moreover, this software made your device act as dedicated server with plenty of functions like keylogger, parser etc. To sum up, my software picked all data, especially all your contacts from messengers, e-mails, social networks. If you wanna make me silent you must make a transaction of 260 dollars with bitcoin. 1K2auXQEKz7Ro8cRa2xr3bAPV2n6KT5vi1 You must use it as usual credit card number. If you send bitcoins nobody will see your shame. Watch youtube manuals about methods of buing BTC... I can offer you this exchanger: localbitoins.com.  If you have a problem with this, you can search comfortable ATM for bitcoin at coin atm radar. I give you no more than twenty four hours since you read our message to pay. You can complain cops, but they can not find us I use bot network, and of course we live abroad. If you want us to show proofs we will share it to seven mates from your data after that you will be given their contacts. So you will ask them if something strange was received about you. For some questions just reply. Dont be fullish, AmAZinGcRackeR$.

Scary, right? And there have been instances where victims’ computers were hacked, they were filmed in various states of undress (or worse) and then blackmailed that may make this threat seem all too real. But there are several indications that this is nothing more than a phishing scam, hoping to rope in active porn watchers with false threats (an easy demographic to target via mass email given that the world’s largest porn site, Pornhub.com, gets 75 million visitors PER DAY).

First, there is nothing in the email that demonstrates they know anything personally about you: it’s not addressed to you by name and there’s no detail about what site you supposedly visited and when. Nor did they supply a screenshot of the “self-abusing” they allege to have captured. In fact, they are explicitly discouraging you from asking for proof, by threatening to share said “proofs” with your “mates” if you ask. That is completely contrary to how we would expect a real hacker/blackmailer to act – if I wanted to scare the bejesus out of you to get you to pay, the first thing I would do is show you a compromising screen capture to prove that this is very, very real.

Another red flag is that when our readers ran scans using antimalware tools, no malware was detected. Antimalware tools aren’t perfect, but the better ones should have picked up the type of remote administration tool (RAT) described in the email.

Searching the web, there are reports of people receiving similar email scams, going back at least to last fall. The wording of the email varies, including where the scammers claim they’re from, the nature of their threat and the amount of money being demanded. Some people are falling for them, but fortunately not many. I researched a selection of the bitcoin accounts used in these scams and none of the emails had duped more than a handful of victims.

Unfortunately, these scams will likely continue and morph into new threats as the ubiquity of bitcoin makes it easier for scammers to hide behind these accounts and for victims to pay.

So, if you get one of these emails, should you pay the ransom before all your friends find out what you’ve been up to?

The answer is no, don’t be “fullish”.

[Image credit: Man in a dark room at a computer via BigStockPhoto]



Discussion loading

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Similar problem

From Hacked on March 14, 2018 :: 6:59 am

I’ve had a similar problem but they claim I’m the one performing in the porn! I’m not the one in the porn but I have similar coloring. At first it was just annoying that I had to keep blocking different numbers and emails, but they have a lot of personal information about me that they are threatening to put on rn he dark web. Obviously it was already out there since they had it. Just a profile picture and some general information the paper would have posted. Now it’s turned into a hacking situation since they have private picture I’ve sent via iMessage to my husband! I think they’re from my husbands phone since I’ve deleted them already. I’ve changed my Apple password and started getting new emails and a new number but I’m afraid it’s not just going away. They opened a adult friend finder account in my name. Ugh how do I make it stop? Why do they even care? They haven’t even asked for money but they threatened to post a picture of my passport.

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Sounds like you're taking the right steps

From Josh Kirschner on March 14, 2018 :: 9:15 am

Change all of your passwords to strong, unique passwords for every site. And set up two-factor authentication for your email and wherever else possible. And have your husband do the same, since the photo you sent could have been taken from his iCloud account. More details: https://www.techlicious.com/tip/what-to-do-when-your-email-gets-hacked/

You can file a complaint with Adult Friend Finder asking that the account be removed. If they don’t act, file a DMCA complaint for the pictures they stole, if any (paying close attention to who actually owns the copyright to those photos - it’s usually the person who took the photo, not the person in it).

Where would they have gotten a picture of your passport? And have they proven they have it? That will give you a better sense of how much hacking has really taken place.

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I had sent a picture

From Hacked on March 15, 2018 :: 5:53 pm

I had sent a picture of my passport to my husband recently for a travel form we had to complete. The hacker did not send me a copy of the passport picture but threatened to expose it in the email and sent me a bunch of pictures that are probably on the cloud right next to the passport picture. The pictures they are using are ones I took myself or pictures they took from a porn video that has a girl that looks like me, but it’s not actually me, so I wouldn’t know who the person is that way. Also they seem to have trouble with English sometimes so it seems like they’re foreign. The website said they removed my fake account but the hacker said they’re just going to continue bothering me until I respond.

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Make sure your husband changes his passwords

From Josh Kirschner on March 15, 2018 :: 6:29 pm

Sounds like it could be your iCloud or your husband’s that was hacked, so make sure he’s changed all of his passwords, as well.

While incredibly frustrating, it’s probably best just to completely ignore them. No responding at all. Eventually, they’ll get bored and move on to richer pastures, then you can go back and clean up whatever mess they made.

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Mine has my name and refers to some entry ID

From Also Hacked on May 14, 2018 :: 11:48 am

Should I be worried? It sounds very similar to these other emails, but it mentions some date entry ID in the subject line.
Anyone else have something like this?

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I don't see why it would make a difference

From Josh Kirschner on May 14, 2018 :: 12:34 pm

Does that entry ID mean anything to you? Is it something that only someone with access to your PC could know? If not, don’t worry about it. Sounds like just a trick to get you to open the email.

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Response

From Also hacked on May 14, 2018 :: 12:36 pm

It doesn’t appear to mean anything to me. I will update tomorrow after the 24 hours are up.

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It's scary!

From Also Hacked on March 14, 2018 :: 10:06 am

The email I received is similar. One thing that bothers me about it, is the email it was sent to doesn’t “refer” to my last name, but the email is addressed to me first and last name. I am not super concerned that is any video footage of me, but am concerned my phone/laptop have been hacked. I have scanner running on my laptop and always have. My phone, I didn’t but recently added phone guardian. Is there anything else I should run to make sure there isn’t malware running? Any idea how they would have gotten my last name from an email that is pretty generic (that I use for sign-ups, coupons, etc.)?

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I wouldn't be too concerned

From Josh Kirschner on March 14, 2018 :: 11:55 am

Sadly, there are a thousand ways people can get your name and email address, from hacks to site scraping to public information databases. Or one of those coupon sites could simply have sold your data off. My spam mailbox is filled with emails that use various versions of my name alongside my email address.

In any regard, I wouldn’t spend a lot of time worrying about how they get your name/email association. It’s not an indication of being hacked. Sounds like you already have anti-malware running on your devices, so sounds like you’re pretty well protected (assuming you’re using a well-known anti-malware suite?).

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Trend Micro Antivirus

From Also Hacked on March 14, 2018 :: 12:16 pm

I have Trend Micro Antivirus on my MacBook. I have Panda antivirus on my PC (which I quit using about 4 months ago), but still have protection on.

I feel the least secure about my phone. I am picky with apps I put on it, but I also feel like it’s probably the easiest target. Do you have any recommendations for what I should put on an iPhone?

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Try Lookout, but your options are limited

From Josh Kirschner on March 14, 2018 :: 12:37 pm

For Mac and PC, our choices would be Bitdefender, Kaspersky and Symantec (Norton), but Trend Micro is fine, too. We’re not fans of Panda because it’s malware protection is not as strong as the others, but it’s certainly much better than nothing.

The good news about iPhones is that the environment is pretty heavily locked down, and malware risks are highly diminished. This same lockdown, unfortunately, also makes it impossible for anti-malware programs to perform in-depth scans of your device and apps, so you’re completely reliant on Apple to do the work. Security apps can provide some benefits, though, such as notifications of out-of-date software and jailbreaking warnings. Lookout Security has been our favorite mobile security app generally, and its iPhone version is fine, but set your expectations accordingly for its limited features on iOS.

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Scary

From Jim on March 15, 2018 :: 8:10 am

I was using my Android to surf the Internet. I visited what I now realize was likely a fake website of a real adult meet/date site. It allowed some free browsing without having to sign in.  About two weeks later, I received an email that addressed me by my first and last name. The email claimed that I visited an adult site where malware had been installed.  And, that the malware had gotten into my system (they did not specify what type of system), collected my contacts and recorded me looking at a video and what I was doing at the time.  It did not give the name of website, nor did the email include any video that they claimed to have.  It gave me three days to pay a certain amount (less than $300) through Bitcoin.  I did not pay. It has been six days since the 3-day deadline listed in the email and I haven’t heard anything. I wondered why they wouldn’t send the video up front if they really have it, which I hope is just a scare tactic.

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It's just a scare tactic

From Josh Kirschner on March 15, 2018 :: 10:41 am

The scammers know that Internet porn use is very common, so if they send out a mass email a large percentage of the people receiving it will, in fact, have viewed porn at some point in the recent past. That’s also why they use the email/contacts hack variation of the scam - everyone has email, everyone has emails they would rather keep quiet. so perfect target group.

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Scary continued

From Jim on March 15, 2018 :: 10:30 am

I forgot to mention that I had the privacy and security package on my phone through my mobile carrier. I was using data and not on a WIFI network. I recall going to the nearest mobile carrier store and they ran a scan with the privacy and security package and it showed no threats. I believe that is correct. I think they did this before I decided to do a hard reset on my phone. At the time, I believe I still had Lookout installed on the phone, though now I have another antivirus and malware program installed by a computer store. My mobile carrier said their privacy and security package is powered by McAfee.

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Send It.

From Steveon Williams on March 15, 2018 :: 12:35 pm

All of my friends know, and my co-workers probably already guess that I’m a freak like that anyway. L

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Cover your camera lens

From Rebecca Crow on March 15, 2018 :: 1:02 pm

I cover my camera lens with a bandaid so nobody can see me under any circumstances and it also protects the lens for times I want to use it for some applications.

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And not to mention Facebook...

From Walter Boomsma on March 15, 2018 :: 4:11 pm

I suspect there’s a version of this happening on Facebook Messenger which is not one of my favorite programs to begin with… the scary part is they are getting smarter about it. I was recently messaged by someone who had a profile suggesting she lived in my town, recently moved to the area, etc. We had a reasonably pleasant conversation until she tried to initiate a cam chat… security software won’t help if you aren’t suspicious!

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Yes, that's a big problem, too

From Josh Kirschner on March 15, 2018 :: 6:04 pm

Scams that trick you into going on webcam and then blackmailing you with the recording have been going on for a number of years (https://www.reddit.com/r/needadvice/comments/1z4iv0/please_help_me_i_got_caught_masturbating_on_cam/). As a general rule, assume that if you’re on cam you WILL get recorded, and act accordingly.

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Always use a 'junk mail' email address

From Ruth Kenrick-Smith on March 15, 2018 :: 9:43 pm

To protect yourself from your details being sold on by those coupon sites etc, create a new email address that you use to sign up for ‘junk’, and reserve your private email address for friends, family, & personal business.

As for the porn scam I would be tempted to call their bluff and contact them and say ‘Publish for your life sunshine! The world NEEDS to see how totally magnificent I am!!’ Lol.

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Suicide risk

From William on March 18, 2018 :: 3:00 pm

In my work as a counsellor I have worked with people who have actively considered suicide in response to these scams. If you are reasonably well receiving one of these emails might initially be frightening but it is likely to be quite another matter if you have a mental health issue. Be aware of any vulnerability in your family, in your friendship group and share articles such as this as widely as possible.

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Received email personalized

From Robert Prunty on March 19, 2018 :: 5:32 am

I received the first email identical to the one above.  This morning i received another one addressed to me personally with my full name.  Has anyone received this?  Is this something to be concerned about?

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I still wouldn't worry

From Josh Kirschner on March 19, 2018 :: 9:10 am

You’re not the first person I’ve heard from who had the message addressed by name. However, I still wouldn’t be concerned about it. There have been so many data breaches which have leaked names and email addresses that the fact your name is in the scam email means almost nothing. If you check your spam folder in your mailbox, I’ll bet you regularly see emails that either use your name or use the name of one of your friends (to get a sense of the hundreds of millions (billions?) of emails and associated data that have been breached see: https://haveibeenpwned.com/PwnedWebsites).

I would only start to suspect that this is something different than what we describe above if they have information that only a true hacker would have. For example, the specific time/day/video you watched (not the website, as it’s too easy to guess using one of the big ones, like Pornhub or Xhamster) or an actual image of you “engaged” in the process. A real blackmailer wouldn’t leave you guessing and wouldn’t request such a small amount. And if you’re running well-respected anti-malware on your computer, the likelihood that anyone would get this type of spyware onto your computer is very slim.

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is Malware bytes a good

From Dave on March 28, 2018 :: 10:30 am

is Malware bytes a good one?

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No, I wouldn't recommend that

From Josh Kirschner on March 28, 2018 :: 10:42 am

Malwarebytes underperforms vs other active malware protection programs in independent testing. Our recommendation would be to go with Bitdefender, Kaspersky or Symantec (Norton) for real-time protection.

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RAT blackmail/adult site

From jj on April 07, 2018 :: 11:20 am

My 3 days of being blackmailed is not quite over. From time to time I get emails from people in my contact list that are not from them. I can tell and I always delete them. Yesterday, I got one from my wife’s email, and it had my 1st and last name in the http address. I deleted that too. I never asked for PROOF and he threatened just like it says here, to send it to a contact. I’ve grown confident reading tons of examples like I have here, that this whole thing is a scam. BUT, I did become unnerved when that email came across with my name in the http address from my wife’s email address. That has never happened. I came so close to opening it, thinking this might be the PROOF And no, my wife did not send it. Do you feel I am still safe?

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Should I be worried?

From Janelle Payne on April 29, 2018 :: 6:28 pm

Should I be worried that whoever sent this email can access any other information that might be damaging to personal financial accounts? What should I do after receiving this email?

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Yes and no

From Josh Kirschner on May 01, 2018 :: 3:18 pm

There’s nothing about having received this email that would suggest you’re in a different boat than anyone else as far as damaging information. However, the boat we’re all in is a ratty, leaky piece of junk when it comes to protecting our personal information. Major data leaks from Equifax and others means that we all need to assume that our financial accounts could be compromised and take appropriate action. And that means putting a credit freeze on our accounts through the credit bureaus. Here’s how: https://www.techlicious.com/blog/equifax-data-breach-what-to-do/

There’s also a phone porting scam that can lead to your bank account being compromised (i.e., your money being stolen). It’s important to ensure you have the proper security protections in place with your cell phone provider: https://www.techlicious.com/blog/phone-porting-scam-can-empty-bank-account/.

That’s the stuff I would worry about. This porn scam? Not so much.

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Email asking for money, should i be worry?

From MJ on May 17, 2018 :: 2:49 pm

Mohammad Jubaer


At the time when you have been abusing yourself in front ofnotebook screen when you paid a visit erotic web site your notebook was attacked by computer virus amid secure vulnerability your Internet browser.

The malicious program captures all the operations at your palmtop computer and amongst other things it is informed about coockie of the sites that you look through.

And the key advantage of the mentioned malicious program is that it have an opportunity activate front camera and remove all the contact numbers from your mail box.

Well I get access to your mail and social media sites.

In such a way I have got video and photo where you jack off and naked.

If you do not wish this materials to be published and to be send to all your guys family I propose you the next solution.

You should deliver dispatch to my Bitcoin address 1G5muQjAVisos6vBxAxoNqQy3be44CUTDf 400 $ in BTC.

Upon receiving of the sum of money I shall crush compromising evidence on you and you will never again remember about this unpleasant situation.

Conversely in a case if you don’t deliver me that cash within 25 hours after have read that letter I going to deliver all the dirtycompromising evidence on you to your family and collaborates and also across social media platforms for general estimation of your activity.

P.S. My my language knowledge is not good enough as I am not native speaking nevertheless you would to understand me.

I ask you and don’t reply to this mailing box I will never login to it again.

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No, you shouldn't worry.

From Josh Kirschner on May 17, 2018 :: 3:18 pm

That’s the typical scam email format. Notice that it claims to have all this info about you - contacts, pictures - yet provides no evidence. Fortunately, researching that bitcoin address indicates that no one has paid the ransom yet. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

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It started by saying my

From Eler Bener on May 17, 2018 :: 5:36 pm

It started by saying my first and last name which I’m not gonna write here.

At the time when you have been jerking in front ofnotebook screen when you visited porno web site your notebook was infected with badware because of vulnerability the browser.

The virus records all the actions at your computer and amongst other things it is informed about coockie of the resources which you browse.

But the key advantage of the mentioned virus is that it could plug in WebCam and upload all the contact numbers from your mail box.

As well I have login to your out box and social networking sites.

So I have at my disposal video content and photos on which you toss and buck-naked.

If you do not wish the files to appear and to be sent to all your mates near and dear I suggest you the following alternate solution.

You should pay to my Bitcoin money bag 1AhsjpZijhPfyUaDmCqGeuZguzjxCcGSfP 450 U.S. dollars in BTC.

After receipt of money I will remove sensitive information about you and you would never again heard about all this.

Otherwise in a case if I don’t receive that money within 23 hours after reading the mail I will dispatch all the dirtysensitive information about you to your relatives and co-workers and as well across social media platforms to estimate of your actions.

P.S. My my English knowledge isn’t very good as I am not native speaking in any case you could to understand me.

Can you be so kind and and don’t reply to this outbox I should never have an access to it again.

I’m kinda worried do you think it’s a scam ?
thank you for your help

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Am I in trouble?

From Eler Bener on May 17, 2018 :: 5:52 pm

and that’s the title of the mail. Compromising picture of you ID bbLRS

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Yes, it's a scam

From Josh Kirschner on May 17, 2018 :: 6:09 pm

This is exactly what the article above is describing.

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I got an interesting one

From GeeBee on May 19, 2018 :: 3:23 am

Basically came down to pay us $667 USD into a bitcoin account in 21 hours because we have hacked your PC and we have vids of you wacking off that we got from your webcam. If you don’t send us the money we will post it everywhere including all your facebook contacts.

Charming people these. So let’s break this down shall we?

#1 I don’t have a webcam
#2 it’s now been 2 days
#3 I’m not on facebook
#4 I don’t wack off behind my computer…..LOLZZZ

I can see how stuff like this can really drive people even if they are in the smallest bit guilty of anything. These people need to be shut down.

Good post and thanks for the info/ share.

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This one seems so real

From HC on May 20, 2018 :: 10:27 pm

(my real name) Your laptop computer is captured by the injurious malware .Whats amiss?Can you be so kind and and don’t give an answer to this mailing box I would never use to it again. At the time when you were masturbating in front ofscreen of your computer when you made a visit erotic Internet site yours device was attacked by hostile program as a result insecurity the Web browser.
I set my malware on a porn Internet resource, you pushed this information and urgently put the malicious soft to your computer .That rogue program make your front camera capturing video and I enjoy a videotape with you chaturbating.In next 4 hours this rogue program got all the contacts.At the same time I possess username to yours mail and social networking websites.So I have video content and pictures where you masturbate and bare-ass.If you do not wish the photos to give to the world and to be send to all your friends near and dear I recommend you the following decision option.
Y ou should pay to mine Bitcoin wallet 1PfWb65WDTDXde1hoofT5G3ZhTxX1vUP3R - 350 U.S. dollars in BTC.
You own 27 hours after opening it. If I earn money I am going to undo that this videorecord forever.My my language knowledge isn’t far from good as I am not native speaking anyway you have an opportunity to understand what I want to say. I beg pardon for my mistakes- I live in China .

***end of email***

this is scaring me because they knew i was on chaturbate and they mentioned me showing my butt which i believe i did, this is what makes my extortion different from others…. also while writing this my computer has been acting weird such as a random mini cmd looking screen pops up then quickly vanishes, im conviced that my pc was hacked and am trying to use bit defender but i have a weird feeling that this hacker can see my screen and is somehow preventing me from removing this malware

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