Internet scams are very common, and they are becoming more difficult to spot every day. Here are some Bitcoin blackmail email scam red flags to look out for to ensure you don’t end up having to pay a Bitcoin ransom.
(Note: If a legitimate hacker has gained access to sensitive information and is threatening to release it unless you pay a fee, you should always call the police.)
How do these scams arise?
Hackers may be able to obtain old passwords of yours and use them to try and scare you. They can do this by infiltrating a site you used a long time ago that had weak security. If you haven’t used that password in a long time, you might be safe. If it is still your password, then you need to act fast. Hackers can also steal passwords if you’ve visited a site that had a lot of malicious malware on it. Malware can infect your computer, and this provides a window for a hacker or scammer to target you.
If you are being presented with an old password that is no longer in use, it is likely a scam. This is because if they had actually hacked you and wanted to put pressure on you, they would have chosen to reveal a newer password. If they do present you with your current password, this is where issues might arise and you should change your passwords immediately.
The most important thing to note with these scams is whether or not they have included other personal information. If it is only an old password, it tends to imply the scammer does not have anything else on you. If they do reference anything else about your personal life that can be leveraged against you, call the police.
One example of an email scam may read something like this:
We have recorded you watching pornography sites behind your wife’s back. If you do not want these videos released, then you must pay us $1,000 in Bitcoin.
Immediately, this could be identified as a scam for the following reason. It is targeted at a male and the scam is suggesting that the male has been watching pornography behind his wife’s back. This is common in Bitcoin blackmail email scams, since the most targeted gender is males (although many women have also been subject to similar scams). The threat may be completely fabricated and the hackers may be playing the odds in the hope that eventually a victim falls for their trap.
Another example may read:
You recently logged in to PayPal with the password 123456. We have also recorded you watching pornography and chatting to females behind your wife’s back. If you do not pay us $1,000 in Bitcoin, we will not only release the videos to your wife, but also hack your PayPal.
This type of email can be more daunting simply because it has identified an old password. If the password is no longer used, then this can be seen as a scam that likely has no basis in reality, but if it is a current password, you should call the police.
Remember never to click on any links in suspicious emails, and always check the sender address to make sure any emails you receive that claim to be from reputable sources are legitimate.
It is also worth noting that a lot of these email scams do not originate from hackers, but people merely pretending to be one. Someone may have purchased old passwords from a hacker and is simply sending emails out to a number of people in the hope they find a victim. Furthermore, the level of spelling and punctuation is typically quite bad in these scams. A serious blackmailer would put significantly more effort into extorting you.
Make sure you protect all of your personal details, since scams that leverage old passwords against you are incredibly common. If other personal information is leveraged against you, and you cannot be sure it is not a scam, contact the police or other authorities.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.