Like any other money making business and market, the world of blockchains and crypto coins is rife with criminal and down right dirty deeds and being on the bitter end of that transaction is never a pleasant experience.
As we discussed earlier, a relatively new phenomena has been going strong in the cryptoverse, preying on those with much to hide and much to lose. It starts when hackers or cyber crooks gain access to innocent victim’s webcams and an anonymous email informs them that they’ve been recorded watching sensitive or explicit content.
The sender also threatens them to make this footage public if they do not comply and send in a decided amount of Bitcoin. This wave of extortion based cyber crime has been dubbed as “sextortion ” by those involved and it has become a real epidemic since it was first reported in 2017.
Sounds like that one Blackmirror episode yet? Because we can definitely see the resemblance.
Now, in a study by Digital Shadows which is a UK based cyber crime investigation firm, since 2017, these sextortionists have reaped in a whopping $332,000 in Bitcoin in ransom as per a report by The Next Web. The study also revealed that the money was sent in by approximately 3100 different Bitcoin wallets.
However, as can be seen from some of these recently surfacing tweets, the sextortion operations are far from over.
— ScamSurvivors (@ScamSurvivors) February 16, 2019
I keep getting emails threatening to send videos of me with my todger out to all my contacts unless I send them a shedload of bitcoins. The #Sextortion scammers are really boring
— Tim Trent (@AluciaCharter) February 18, 2019
Due to the amount of people going through this, the Twitterverse has come up with ways to protect their own, with some providing legal aid and other’s sharing their story to let people know that they’re not alone.
Some even provided a little insight into how the scammers may not even have actual incriminating footage of you;
— ScamSurvivors (@ScamSurvivors) February 22, 2019
The issue has become so severe that the UK government even launched a sextortion awareness campaign;
#ValentinesDay isn’t always a bed of roses ? RT @NCA_UK: If you’re being blackmailed online, don’t panic, don’t pay, stop and tell the police. Ensure you know how to protect yourself and what to do if you’re a victim of #Sextortion https://t.co/C7fcmnHtkA pic.twitter.com/Q2UGotX0W1
— NorthTyneside Police (@npnorthtyneside) February 14, 2019
Further, the research also analysed a huge proportion of the scammer’s emails with regards to methods and location and results showed they were coming in from 5 different continents. Out of all the countries in those 5 continents, Brazil, Vietnam and India had the most sextortion traffic. However, the possibility that these email servers were also hacked and redirected to hide the true identities of the actual perpetrators is also very real.
According to Rafael Amado, Senior strategy and research analyst at Digital Shadows, social networking sites were also fast becoming the main tool for these scams;
“Using it can help identify a potential victim’s job, likely salary and firms they have worked for. They may also disclose details of family members, marital status and their location. If this is supplemented with breach data such as passwords then it can make an extortion attempt more potent.”