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Sextortion scam using hacked passwords

Jul 31, 2018

More often than not, it’s obvious to recipients that scam emails are just that. They get deleted, forgotten about, and the person who received it moves on with their day without paying it any further attention.

But what if whilst scrolling through your junk folder, you found an email with an old password of yours in the subject line? That would be a bit more unsettling and make you much more likely to take notice of the contents.

We’ve recently become aware of an old scam doing the rounds again with a new element.

The content of the email is basically the scammer claiming that they’ve hacked the recipient’s webcam and have video evidence of them watching porn. They then attempt to blackmail the recipient into paying them in Bitcoin to delete the video. The new component, however, is the salutation line.

‘I’m aware that <insert one of recipient’s old passwords here> is your password,’

This personal element seems to give more legitimacy to the scam and can cause recipients to panic themselves into paying. If you receive this, don’t click on any links or panic and pay. It would appear that the scam artists are accessing old lists of leaked data when popular websites have been breached in the past and emailing the same thing to everyone on the list.

If you do receive something like this, the key is not to panic. Don’t open any attachments or click on any links. Delete the email, and if the password is one you still use, or is similar to one you still use, then change them. Even if it’s not similar, it’s a good idea to change your passwords anyway if you haven’t done so in a while.

If you’d like some advice on creating strong passwords, have a read of our post on password security.

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Onsite engineer

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