What is the porn blackmail / sextortion scam?
Published: January 17, 2019

What is the porn blackmail / sextortion scam?
What is the porn blackmail / sextortion scam?

Over the last few years, a phishing scam known as the 'porn blackmail scam' or 'sextortion scam', has been targeting mainly Mac users all over the world via email. Most recently, Mac users in the United States have been targeted, sending American citizens into an uproar of panic and fear. While many phishing emails can be easily detected as fake, these particular scammers claim to have hacked into your computer through a virus that has been clicked on while visiting a pornographic website.

Often times, these scammers will say that they have hacked into your webcam and have recorded a video of you while watching pornographic videos. So, why does this email stand out from all the other phishing scams? Well, these hackers also claim to have gotten a hold of your email password, and in some cases, they've actually got the right password. To scare you, these scammers will post your password in the first few lines of the email, and then threaten to send this video to all of your friends and family if you do not pay their ransom in bitcoin.

So, is this porn blackmail scam real or fake?
Fake. While these scammers may have gotten a hold of your password, there is, often times, no actual proof that your webcam has been hacked and that you are being specifically targeted. Ask yourself these questions: Is the email written in poor English with formatting issues and lots of spelling and grammatical errors? Is the message very general with no personal facts about you including your name? If you answered yes to both of these questions, it is likely that you received a mass email scam that has been sent to hundreds of people. If these scammers have gotten a hold of your password, it is likely that they have retrieved this information from a data breach or have hacked one of your old accounts. After retrieving one of your old passwords, hackers can then link the password up with its correlating email address, which is how you may have received these phishing emails to begin with. It's human nature to keep the same password for multiple accounts, so it's not difficult to scare victims with this tactic.

What do I do now?
First off, you need to delete the email. Do not reply to these types of emails and do not, under any circumstances, pay the ransom. If you comply with the demands of these hackers, you will be scammed out of your money and become a target for similar phishing scams in the future. Next, it is important that you change all of your passwords. Create a strong password that makes it difficult to hack. Strong passwords include 10-15 characters with a mix of lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers and symbols.

For instance, this would be considered a strong password: 'RJw9!d5%qmc9!32'.

While this would be considered a weak password: 'ilovedogs'.

It would also be beneficial to come up with a variety of passwords that you can use for different accounts. So, if hackers get a hold of one of your passwords, they will only have access to one of your accounts, as opposed to all of them. Finally, if you want to take extra precautions, download antivirus software onto your computer and run regular scans. Some good free softwares include: MalwareBytes, VirusBarrier Scanner, and Avast.

At the end of the day, the 'porn blackmail scam' is just like any other hoax, using fear as a tactic to scam victims out of their money. With strong passwords and regular scans from your antivirus software, you can protect yourself against hackers and future phishing scams.



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