By now many of us are probably pretty familiar with the widespread phenomenon of sextortion email scams.
Typically the emails arrive in your inbox, claiming to have secretly taken a video as you “enjoyed” an adult website.
The blackmailer’s threat? To share the embarrassing video with your friends, family and colleagues unless you agree to pay a certain amount of Bitcoin into their cryptocurrency wallet.
Of course, the truth is that you may very well have not visited an X-rated website. And even if you did, the blackmailer doesn’t have a video of you masturbating. And if you believe they are likely to send a video to your friends and family for not agreeing to their blackmail then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.
But the truth isn’t any deterrent to the scammers – who continue to try to trick the unwary and vulnerable with sextortion emails.
This week a reader sent me the following email which takes things in a slightly different direction. In many ways it’s a normal sextortion scam email – it claims malware was installed after visiting a porn website, it says that an embarrassing video was secretly recorded through the user’s webcam, and makes threats to pass it on to relatives and associates.
To make the threat even more compelling, the video filename is <name>.mp4, where <name> is derived from the first part of the victim’s email address. That isn’t quite so convincing, however, when sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org :)
The email also uses a trick sometimes adopted by spammers in an attempt to avoid email filters – you’ll notice that the word “masturbation” is spelt throughout the message as “mɑsturbation” (the first “a” looks like an “a’, but is actually a homoglyph).
But what really struck my correspondent’s eye is that the extortionist did not demand that they were paid in Bitcoin, but via a different cryptocurrency – Litecoin – instead.
Maybe cryptocurrency investors should really be worried about Bitcoin’s future prospects if even the blackmailers are dropping it…
In summary – if you receive an email like this, simply delete it.