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The FTC uses the information it gets from people who report scams to keep close watch on trends, so we can alert you to changes. Here’s one: reports of Bitcoin blackmail scams have taken a big jump in the last few weeks. The emails say they hacked into your computer and recorded you visiting adult websites. They threaten to distribute the video to your friends and family within hours, unless you pay into their Bitcoin account. Stop. Don’t pay anything. Delete the message. It’s a scam.

Based on the timing of this spike, you may get one of these messages because your email was exposed in a recent data breach. The scammers may say they have access to your computer or webcam, or installed clever software to defeat you. That’s all talk. But they may really know one of your old – or recent – passwords, and they include it in the message to prove it. When you see that, you know it’s time to update your password on that account, and consider updating other passwords, too.

If you, or someone you know, get a message like this, please report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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821 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

TGill
May 03, 2020
I received 2 emails with a password for one of my 15 year old daughters old accounts Has anyone responded to emails saying you are reporting or did you just ignore?
SeniorCat
May 03, 2020
I received an email scam from a “Audi Mcpeek”with a “alleged password of mine”. Password in subject line of email. Sender give me 24 hours to send them Bitcoins or they will release embarrassing photos of me. It came from an encrypted outlook email address. I took screenshots of email and did nothing.
Jim
May 03, 2020
I just got two of these and was unsure exactly what category to use in filing my report. I didn't see a "bitcoin scam" link on the Reporting page, so I just filed under the "something else" category. What is the appropriate category to use when filing a report on this?
grim
May 03, 2020
I have rec'd at least 4 of these now. I did fill out an on-line report for the FTC. Even though I know it is all untrue and ridiculous...it is still upsetting and would just like to have them stop and also the people caught in this scheme. Does anyone ever fall for this and pay them?? I cannot imagine
BobGB
May 04, 2020
I'm thinking about attaching this page to my reply email to the scammer's next emailassuming I get one, and letting them know I've filed a complaint with FTC. Would this be a good idea?
not a robot
May 05, 2020

In reply to by BobGB

That would just validate your email address with them. Best course I can see is ignore, delete and block sender
BobGB
May 04, 2020
Has anyone experienced these blackmailers actually carrying out their threats?
Vegas_Guy
May 04, 2020
Two days ago, I received a scam extortion email using one of my old passwords as the heading. The scammer used the obvious fake name "Bern Maceachern" and requested $3,000 in Bitcoin. If I did not pay him within 24 hours, he would use explicit videos of me taken by my computer camera during recent porn sessions. Unfortunately, I am 71 years old and do not visit porn sites nor do I have any computer camera on my PC! I laughed at this idiot, but I also sent the email information to the FBI and the FTC who investigate these scams.
pmr
May 04, 2020
Today I received email demanding bit coin else forward some porn video to my friends. Pls advise what should I do
M and T
May 04, 2020
My husband's received two emails and were filing a complaint with the email being copied for The FTC to review
not a robot
May 05, 2020
So when do they give up? I've gotten 2 in 4 days now. Yes, some times I have visited such sites, so it was a little disconcerting, but being a very old password and having no FB account clued me in it was bunk.
niceguy
May 07, 2020

In reply to by not a robot

What you posted is exactly as me. I have no FB account and they showed a very old password.
jm
May 08, 2020
I have received this blackmail you have b en visiting pornsites and we have video email for 2+ years. If I paid everytime I got the email, it would have paid out to date in the 100k+ range. There are days I would get 4 or more the same words, from same sender's email address, but different amounts. Most likely your password and where it was obtained from is located at havei beenpwned. com
GemmaT
May 05, 2020
I just received one of these messages tonight. Said if I did not believe them to reply asking for proof. I didn’t of course, since I have not been to any adult sites, but they had an old password from a dating site I was on about 13 years ago. I deleted it immediately, but if I get another one I will send to FTC.
K1112
April 14, 2021

In reply to by GemmaT

I got one yesterday saying we have accessed your camera and will put your pictures out on the net you have 48 hrs to meet my needs in ninety six hours we will send the contact to family and friends. It came with a .txt file.
Dagmarnie
August 02, 2021

In reply to by K1112

I just got this - it gave 48 hrs and included a file as well- I have not opened- did you open your file??
bbce89
May 05, 2020
Received four of these from 4/27 to 5/5 through Comcast email. They appear to bypass spam/security filters by using a combination of special characters with regular text. All from different email addresses. When reading the email there are no apparent special characters but in both the 2-line Comcast preview as well as when you try to select text to copy the special characters reappear. Reported one to Comcast to abuse@c*****t.net but they continue to arrive from other email addresses.
DLA
May 06, 2020
I received a bitMail threat today to extort 3000BT unless I send the requested. The subject listed as my OLD email address which i have not used since retirement 8 years ago. I completed the FCI form and submitted today.
UJ
May 06, 2020
I've received about 5 from all different user ids with different messages (some garbled) and amount demands. I reported the first one then set up my email account to direct any additional straight to trash (based on the old password in the subject).
Johnny
May 06, 2020
Got the same email yesterday. First shock was to see my password out there in clear text. Found two sites where still using it. Dug deeper into my memory, and I could remember using the same on LinkedIn many years ago; which I changed immediately back then, when they had the leak (but never bothered at that time to check if I also used it on any other site). So, I'm pretty sure that's were they must have gotten it. I freaked quite a bit (and not necc due to their direct threats of releasing webcam shots they claimed they had), but I figured that on one of the 2 sites where my passwd was still current, I had my physical home address and cc details saved (as it is a books & gifts shop and have ordered from them). I freaked out real bad as they demonstrated they had one of my passwords, and clearly had my email too since they wrote to me. Moral of the story, never again use the same pass on more than one site, and always use 2FA at least on those sites where you'd have more sensitive data saved (addr, cc). As I slowly began to relax a bit, I realized worse came to shove, he could've figured out the one other site where this same pass would've fit and ordered a ton of books from it on my tab. But hey, then at least he might have get himself educated into a skill, get a job, get a life and hopefully stop spewing sleazy threats trying to trap honest-working people and depart them from their hard earn buck. I still did file a complaint though. Even if I normally receive other spam too, but none has asked for $2000 (or any other amount for that matter). And none has rattled saber by showing they got a password that I once used. Guess they had to come up with some use to all those leaked passwords after all. And the attitude in the threats, that's just so horrible and low; he assumes people have moral issues or struggles and he could just go ahead and extort them based on that, while in reality this very fact only exposes how debased his own mind is. Hope they'll all get found out eventually. Thank you FTC for your service!
BW
May 07, 2020
I have received 4 of these e-mails with an old password in subject line. All are the same message but from different people. I reported them to FTC. Very annoying since they did have a password.
AverageJoe
May 08, 2020
I received one of these threat scams. They used a password that I only use for an old account in a Central American country that I have not used for a long time. I appreciate the information about this and will delete and ignore.
DF
May 08, 2020
Got mine today asking for $2000, I sent mine to the FTC like you all have. "They" had a very old password. I managed to copy and paste the whole email per the comments section. I would love if the government could track them down. Time to change all my passwords again.
heidih72
May 08, 2020
I record an email to pay bitcoin or they were going to expose some weird porn of myself. Have no idea who or what this is but, I was told to report it. It came from a rowland but, doesn’t show email address
Vinci
May 09, 2020
Today I got an email that my gmail account has been hacked. And the hacker will leak videos so in order to stop it. He asked me to pay $987 bit coin with in 48 hours otherwise the reslt wud be harsh. They threatened me by introducing me with my old passwrd.. What shud I do ?
Jeffinindy
May 10, 2020
I have received 2 such emails with the same mentioned criteria in the last 2 weeks on 2 different often used email address and one was a female claiming the adult info and the second as a male claiming the same info in different wording I highlighted and copied the wording and saved that to a word pad and when doing this every first letter in the message changed to a small box in saving I do not believe that I infected my PC but found it strange that each character changed to a small box in word pad
Mac
May 12, 2020
Received one of these today. These guys try to act pretty scary. Hoping people don’t fall for this.
Bubba
May 12, 2020
I received this as well and I only used the password in a couple of places- hotel loyalty programs and LinkedIn. Update your passwords especially for LinkedIn!
Lolzing
May 12, 2020
Just got one of these today...telling me a password I haven't used in YEARS. It's sad and pathetic and these folks deserve to go to jail for trying to rip people off.
sneathbean
May 12, 2020
I just got one of these emails - seeing my old password in the subject line really gave me a start, but, among other things, I don't have a webcam. They wanted 2000 in bitcoin - ha! Like I'm going to figure out how to buy bitcoin. I was very grateful to find this website and discussion, and I just finished filing a report.
ScamNO
May 12, 2020
I got one of these emails tonight, and it contained a password I haven’t used for years. It was a password I used for EVERYTHING before I got smart and started changing all passwords to random sequences of letters and numbers. Because it is such an old password I figured it was a scam and deleted the email, but then went online to find information about this scam. I told my family about the scam, so they will know to just delete it.
V_hate spams
May 13, 2020
I received one of those SPAM emails (from Hasty nnsirv@ ) with an old pass and claiming to have access to my webcam and in possession of sensitive video/data. The individual threatens to disclose to all my contacts in FB if I don't pay US$2,000 in bitcoin. Clearly, it is a SPAM but it is freaky to see an old pw by unknown individuals. The IP from the header pointed to a location in New York but it could have been originated from somewhere else. I filed a FTC complain and forward a copy of the email to spam@ uce. gov
Peace
May 13, 2020
I have just received the email asking for $2000 in bitcoin coins. They have my password. This is very worrying
baddi2914
May 13, 2020
I have a received and an email extortion that have a partial of one of my old passwords. They claim that they took a video on me and they will release it to my facebook contacts if i don't pay them $2000 USD via bitcoin in the next 24 hours or my life will be hell. Not sure what to do.
mom
June 04, 2020

In reply to by baddi2914

Don’t do ANYTHING! They don’t have anything real. It’s a scam.
ProblemHacked
May 13, 2020
Got a letter from email no address name Sherwood threatening that he has my password and demanding money to be sent or he would make my life a living hell and I must send money with this info 18hTLX8NXWyTAATSTDRTSmzRwJ7*th1rnfV
JW
May 13, 2020
Hello, I received two of these emails from different names in the last week. Both emails have similar messages, but variations in wording on each threat. I did find it shocking to see an old email password displayed. I remember the email breach reported years ago and recognized that this password may live on old websites, but not the ones I use regularly. I did update all my passwords and did report the emails on the FTC site.
BPat
May 13, 2020
I just received a similar email, and reported to FTC/Complaint.
Mack
May 13, 2020
Just got the same thing this morning. Using one of my passwords as the subject line, and stating that they accessed my computer through an adult site, and malware. They said that they have video that they are going to send to 3 of my contacts if I don't pay them $2000 bitcoin within 24 hours of clicking on the email. They said that the video was from accessing my web cam while on an adult site, and they said if you want proof, reply and ask and they will send it to 3 contacts. This was the first that I've received from them, but I'm sure I will get another tomorrow.
katz
May 13, 2020

In reply to by Mack

I guess 2k bitcoin is the going rate... Sounds like you & I have the same pen pal!! eMailed to me today, showing an old password, porn shame, all of it. I was so freaked out I just deleted it. It was in my spam folder. Sooo happy I Googled it & found this site at the top of the search results. SUCH a relief!
JackG
May 16, 2020

In reply to by katz

I am also in the same boat as you! I got the email on 5/13/20 demanding the same things! So happy I found this website!
Styles
May 14, 2020

In reply to by Mack

After reading all these posts, I figured it out that they got my information from Fanatics.com sports website. Immediately changed the password and will contact fanatics tomorrow and complain about not notifying me about their security breach.
Nonsense
May 13, 2020
I received the same email today, May 13th. They did have an old password that I no longer use. I updated all of my other passwords just to be safe.
sgirellini
May 13, 2020
I received my first email 5/13/20 and immediately reported this blackmail. I will not respond to any of them. The password in the email is old and not active. The allegations are not true.
JLubatkinDon't…
May 13, 2020
I received the demand for bitcoin email otherwise they would release compromising video to my contacts. It was concerning because the password that they had was valid. I called the police to inform them and went to the FTC website to also record it.
Darcy M.
May 13, 2020
I just received one yesterday, in early May.
JS
May 13, 2020
Just filed a complaint after I talked to a representative from FTC. Fortunately, the password mentioned and used as the email subject line is a generic password I used for non essential account.
Darcy M.
May 13, 2020
I just received one yesterday, in early May threatening to send photos or videos.
Rob
May 13, 2020
The email I got had a .br domain, which is Brazil.