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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.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

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.

AMesss
August 31, 2021

In reply to by Prettiboi

I also received the same thing, but I deleted it after reading and changed my passwords, is that okay to delete it immediately?
Dustyuse your …
August 23, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

I got this one today .. word for word but they wanted $1014 from me. Very old password. I tried to submit to FTC.gov/complaint but kept saying invalid email. Tomorrow I will notify local police which Of course will do nothing.
Jake
August 26, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

I just got a similar email asking me for $700 but they neither gave any proof of the video or even that they hacked me in the first place, as well as the fact they sent the email to an old hardly used email. All they told me is they have access to my operating system and my account. I have since downloaded an antivirus and scanned my computer and phone multiple times with no issues. I don't know if the antivirus will tell me if I've been already hacked before, but I ended up not doing anything about the email.
Jas
September 13, 2020

In reply to by Jake

I literally got this email today asking for the same thing! It followed up with having a read receipt and what not to start the clock (50hrs) to pay. Crazy seeing how I never use my cam for anything anyway. I also have an antivirus protection that notifies me any time its blocking something. Seeing how other people have encountered this problem is very relieving.
Mazmi
August 30, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

Hi. I got the same exact email word for word. What should I do? I got a panic attack and happen to stumble upon this website with the list of all your comments and feel a little relieved that I’m not the only one receiving the email. The hacker hasn’t done anything to any of you right?
Margie26
September 28, 2020

In reply to by Mazmi

I didn’t see the blackmail email until a week after I was supposed to deliver the bitcoin. So unless no one in my contacts cared about the alleged video of me they received, I’m willing to bet nothing was sent.
wasacri28
November 30, 2020

In reply to by Margie26

same mine says 6 days ago and i thought it was still going to happen but he was giving me time, the password used was super old and it was from a clothing website called shein because thats literally the only one i have that password on
jarla
February 01, 2021

In reply to by wasacri28

Unfortunately, I got the exactly same email (only the $ amount is different) yesterday.
menmen
February 02, 2021

In reply to by wasacri28

Same, they sent me the exact same email word for word and I recognized the password they used from Shein, too.
asdf902
September 10, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

I got this today as well. Exact same verbiage and threat. Do we file a complaint through FTC?
TBokorI
October 05, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

I got the exact same one 2 weeks ago, but it ended up in my spam inbox (I wonder why). I saw it today and was starting to get worried. Seeing that you got the exact same email has reassured me. Thank you.
adultGambino
October 17, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

I got the same exact email LOL. I panicked at first then I do some research about bitcoin scams and i found out about this thread/forum.
Chris
October 18, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

Thanks for copying and pasting I got nearly the exact same message. I was sure it was fake but it feels reassuring.
CC
October 19, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

Yep, I got the same email on October 13, 2020. Scary to see it is still an ongoing scam! Word for word, the exact same email you gave us here, except for the amount of money listed. Hope to see these emails stop soon. The scariest part is that the password included in the email was an actual password I use.
Jess
October 21, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

Hi I have received the exact email today, very scary because it is actually one of my passwords. Did you report it? Thanks
victim
October 22, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

I got a literally same message ..copy paste except for the amount 1040 lol
Macabrelli
October 24, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

I got the exact same email. Filed a report and deleted it. This could be in connection with a recent breach in Barnes and Noble where a bunch of emails were stolen.
Laurelreef26
December 26, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

I got this exact email today which was strange to me because I don’t visit those sites and I have coverings over all my cameras. The password they mentioned was my pets name but I had been calling the pet another name for years so it made me laugh. Either way came on here to see if I could find similar examples
Larold
December 27, 2020

In reply to by MoeA

12/25/2020 Exactly the same except for the amount wanting over $5000.
LynnRB
March 15, 2021

In reply to by MoeA

I got the same email.. twice! It looks legit but thankfully I found this site before doing anything
Milo
April 09, 2021

In reply to by MoeA

I got the exact same email today and had a notification from Instagram a few days ago that someone was logging into my account from Mozambique. Of course I denied it was me and changed my password immediately but they mentioned the password I had for Instagram in the email.
Esraa
August 17, 2021

In reply to by MoeA

I got the exact same one except he wanted a little more than 2,000 in bitcoins. I was so scared of this email and he's also breached my other emails. I got all of them back, thank God, but one I can't get back
blaz
June 13, 2020

In reply to by AhLoh

Same here. Just received same email demand. Damn, wish I had found that site!!!
e22f1
February 17, 2021

In reply to by AhLoh

Did you ever get any harm after not paying the ransom ?
Fsanclass
May 18, 2020

In reply to by vt_yeti

Just received a lengthy one: I will include it in the body of this reply: Stating they have a recording of me... They will expose me to my contacts... Very Graphic commentary From Ivy: with this was the only thing I could copy from the email 1No891GFjCNU*F9hyR4WqJj7ti5gsSnbjmw
Hacked
May 22, 2020

In reply to by Fsanclass

I have received a 2nd message in two days similar to all of these $3000 on bitcoin or else a video of me by spyware will be released to all my contacts fb and cell. One difference for me is that my threat is from text message by 2 different numbers.
gibPA
May 28, 2020

In reply to by Hacked

I received one from text message on 5/24/20. Is this the new twist in this scam since the majority, if not all, of the reports out there involve email not text.
Ruby
May 31, 2020

In reply to by Hacked

I was sent the same message to my phone as well. Figured it was a scam but still scary. Thanks for sharing. Hope these people have left you alone.
DoomsdayJesus
July 21, 2020

In reply to by Tymm

I received an email on the exact same day as you. I feel so much better that It's not a real thing. Never seen attempts like this before. I'll be using Lastpass for everything now.
Tim
July 14, 2020

In reply to by JJ

Yes it is pretty crazy they do that. If your password is linked to your email it can send out a random text with any messages trying to extort you.
Ami123
July 25, 2020

In reply to by Fsanclass

I received exactly the same email Sat 25 Jul 20 demanding payment in Dollars otherwise they will "release" my video to all my contacts and destroy my life! I have been receiving these emails on and off since last year. Strangely my password they mention in their email hasn't been used since 2005. Very disturbing and upsetting experience indeed.
SFDon't useSF …
August 19, 2020

In reply to by Ami123

I received a threatening email on July 25th as well and another one today. I read the first but only a couple of sentences of the second. .They didn’t even get my name right. I spent time securing all passwords. All my devises have malware protection. Keep in mind we pay for our devises and for our plans. These parasites are trying to leach off us. Do not let these thieves take anything from you. I was rattled because the hacker was able to get into accounts and place a few orders. Watch your cell phone account. The low life ordered an expensive iPhone. It was delivered to my house and 15 minutes later fed ex showed up with a pick up order to ship the phone I paid for, on a plan I paid for as well. There is a special place in hell for these disguising scammers.
catface
September 26, 2020

In reply to by Ami123

I got this email yesterday. Did they ever contact you to ask where the money was? They want Bitcoin from me but cryptocurrency is not legal in my state so I can't get any even if I try. He got my info from hacking an old FB profile that I don't use anymore.
How did things…
November 17, 2020

In reply to by Fsanclass

I think mine is the same as yours. What actions did you take and did anything happen?
Complainingemailuser
September 15, 2020

In reply to by vt_yeti

YES! I used this email about 3 years ago on Monster when I was looking for a job. I have gotten nothing but innocuous spammy emails wanting me to buy things or that I have won something. This is the first ransom style email I have gotten so far.
DarkFly
October 05, 2020

In reply to by vt_yeti

Got the same one on Sunday, but during weekends I never check my email. I could not help but laugh, since I don't visit porn sites at all. The password however was a password that I have used about 2 years ago, which I do not really appreciate. Shows the importance of changing your password often.
Jme
December 26, 2020

In reply to by vt_yeti

Haha, I don't watch porn sites, so good luck with that :P
Edy
October 11, 2021
Efectivamente a mi me llego un email de msiquiera@lifebee.net.br Diciéndome que tengo 48 hs para pagar en bitcoin a un monedero que me escriben porque si no van a visualizar vídeos pornos que estoy yo.(esto es una rotunda mentira.), y me dicen que bajaron mis datos fotos y todo y que compartirán en todos lados estos videos.en el email me dicen que compraron credenciales y login en la deep web ,y me dicen que me monitorizan hace medio año,y que me descargaron de mi bandeja de email mis archivos y los reemplazaron con copias infectadas.y que tienen copias de mis historiales de redes sociales chat y demás, y que los antivirus tradicionales no detectan su virus,y que ellos generaron videos conmigo dándome placer, y que aparezco en una pantalla viendo vídeos xxx. Todo esto es falso obviamente. Pero no se si realmente pueden crar videos falsos de esa índole y hasta donde me pueden perjudicar. Al email lo abrí para leerlo porque no sabía de que trataba y dice que corre el plazo de 48 hs para que yo les pague. Y que si les pago borran todo lo que hicieron , y también dicen que ese email de ellos lo hicieron de modo aleatorio que es inútil que yo lo responda.