Fake blackmail email suggests you watched pornography – UPDATED!

A relatively new email scam is to send emails suggesting that the recipient has watched pornographic material online. The scammers sometimes up the validity level by including a password, usually an old one, that the potential victim has used in the past, gathered from online password dumps. They also claim to have installed malware on “the site” (which is never named) that grabs all of the user’s contacts and turns on the user’s webcam. Ultimately, the scammers threaten to send a video to the user’s contact list showing not only what the user watched on the site, but what they were doing while watching it, unless the user pays them an amount of money in the form of Bitcoin or other digital currency.

The likelihood of the scam working depends heavily on two things – first, whether or not the recipient has a web cam and two, whether or not the recipient watches pornography online. If the answer is “no” to either qualification, the email is easily dismissed. Unfortunately, with the number of laptops and even desktops that have web cams either built in or attached and the surprising number of people who indulge in viewing pornography online, this crazy-sounding blackmail scheme works, to the tune of over half a million dollars. Most of these emails ask for less than $500 in digital currency.

UPDATE: New versions of this scam will include links to a “sample” of the (non-existent) video. Do not follow the links! The file will infect the computer with malware that will steal credentials and data.

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