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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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John Jay
June 08, 2020

In reply to by Alex A.

Friend, it's a pure scam, they are just trying to scare people into paying. They have nothing on you except an old password from a hacked website like ebay, linked in or your bank or insurance co. They cannot by federal law record you, and this would put them at liability to federal law. and the FBI. It's pure blackmail. Besides, the email makes no sense because most people put tape over their webcams and the password was simply bought from one of many of your old email, social media, professional or commerce websites that was hacked. Mine was empire blue cross blue shield medical. But I don't visit the websites mentioned. And if I did and they really had such info, they w ould have been asking for way more money than 2k I simply responded that the scammer must be gay if he likes watching me, and to share the video with his wife or GF since they would rather be with me than him after seeing how big I am. lol Have fun with these scammers. It's pure blackmail. Don't fall for it. They have nothing. Banking on your gullibility.
Rich w
April 29, 2020
Received one of these threatening emails with an outlook account demanding bitcoin. Filed FBI complaint.
rosy
April 29, 2020
I also received one of these emails and I sent the info to the FTC. Their input here is good to see but like the FTC advises change passwords and give nothing to these emails. Delete them.
Jbrown
April 29, 2020
I believe they obtained access to old passwords from a breach on LinkedIn. I would suggest either deleting that account and starting a new one, or at the least change your password.
Jonic
May 01, 2020

In reply to by Jbrown

Thanks Jbrown. I couldn’t figure out where I used that password over ten years ago with a fictitious email name that I use for non important informational sites. After you mentioned Linken.com, I looked and sure enough, that was it. I never worried about it since I don’t have camera’s on computer. Thanks Again!
Fred
May 05, 2020

In reply to by Jbrown

Mine was an old LinkedIn password. I understand Linked in was hacked years ago and took a long time before they informed users that their passwords had been compromised. Get the emails frequently. I've kept all the bitcoin addresses and would be rapt if someone could put it out on cyberspace that how to remove bitcoin from these accounts
Pablo Irlanda
April 29, 2020
I was interested that they had one of my old Passwords for "non-critical" sites which ask for one. On the question of a breach, it is possible that one of those adult sites that you may have inadvertently contacted was itself a phishing scam to support the one which we now have.
Nmas1954
September 09, 2020
Received a text message on phone yesterday. Mentioned Bit coin. Too long to read, i erased.
Jrpinmaryland
April 29, 2020
My honey got two of the same email too. There is a webpage called fanatics a sport’s apparel site that was hacked and they got the email addresses and passwords it appears. The website fixed the Issue but we were never notified that our information had been compromised. So many sleezeballs trying to get something for nothing and threatening us. Thank goodness for the FTC making this announcement.
Brad
May 01, 2020

In reply to by Jrpinmaryland

Thank you for this. Yes. I used the fanatics website a couple weeks ago to order some things and received the ransom $2000 email with password in the subject line today.
SATX
April 29, 2020
I received a scam email just like this a couple weeks ago. I reported to FBI cyber security website.
stella guidry
April 29, 2020
Have received 2 of the above emails.....
jerhollie
April 29, 2020
I received one of these scams saying they got through FaceBook and showed a sort of old password.. The due diligence of a good friend directed me to this website.. I wish there was a way to catch these people and make them pay dearly with prison time..
Dj
September 03, 2020

In reply to by jerhollie

i haven't slept from last night with the stress, the whole day today it was like a mountain on my shoulder, thinking which account did i use the password for. They should really be punished for this. I totally agree.
DoRanedog 4248…
April 29, 2020
I have received 3 Of these dreadful scam emails - and one with escalating threats. In trying to send them to the FTC address, published with your scam notification, they will not send saying it is an invalid address. I’m sending the threats to: www.FTC.gov/complaint. Suggestions?
RetiredCertifi…
April 29, 2020
I got two of these in my spam folder. Reported them both to the FBI and FTC. They had my old password I used to use for junk accounts like magazine subscriptions, and I haven't used it much in years. But clearly the data they got had both a legitimate email and a password not used for that account.
ferrigno1
April 30, 2020
I received 2 emails almost exactly as desribed in the above article. Email addresses are: Kirstin Garvey
just me
August 21, 2020

In reply to by ferrigno1

mine was name Ami and when I checked the email address it's zpmmin@ it said they would release self pleasuring video unless i send $2000 bit coin to the address they give me, I reported it.
@1stSunday2011
April 30, 2020
I’ve received three. All threatening to send porn to all in my address book. The first demanded $2000 in Bit Coins. They had an old password. I discarded them to the Junk Folder. I don’t remember the names used; however, 2 were male names; the 3rd was a female name.
BeleagueredDon…
August 21, 2020

In reply to by @1stSunday2011

Just got one of these threats on my personal email from: ajejesushn@ Really pretty obvious!! The last one I got was on my work email from some other yokel. This is so annoying!!
jop
April 29, 2020
I received one of those obviously phony emails a couple weeks ago.
crvttbaby
April 29, 2020
I have gotten 4 so far . I changed passwords on Facebook and email account. Every 2 days would get one from a different email address.
Regularguy
May 15, 2020

In reply to by crvttbaby

Are you still receiving those emails even though you've changed your passwords on FB and on you email account?
concernedinMT
April 29, 2020
I received one of those emails too & they had an old password. Extremely upsetting...we hv to be vigilant and report everything.
Jessie
May 13, 2020

In reply to by concernedinMT

I got one today. I have never had a computer in my bedroom. I haven’t used the password they claimed to have for 15-20 years. Still, I was absolutely shaken by the message and had to look it up. Scary
Deka
May 16, 2020

In reply to by Jessie

I received the similar email too. The whole content of that email was full of threatening messages. Totally shaken. Can’t even think much and gotta ask family and ex to calm me down. That instant fear that made the heart drop, hope will never go through it anymore. Thanks to FTC for the information. Felt so much better after reading.
DMV
April 30, 2020
Thank you for this info. I will file a complaint. I received 2 emails over the course of a few days and even though I know they are scams I felt threatened by the content. They are coming into my cox communications email so I think I will reach out to them too.
thatbat
April 30, 2020
Thanks for this, and all your other reports. I have gotten two of these, one last year, and one last week. They definitely knew an old passwork . . .It freaked me out the first time. I knew it when I saw it last week. You guys do good work.
Trish
April 30, 2020
Got 2. I think they got the addresses from facebook. One of them was an address I used because I was in Fb jail with the address I would have usually been on. I deleted that account and another under the address i use for business mail, which the bitcoin email came under. I only use Fb messenger now...suspended my full acct...sick of Fb lies.
kkn007
April 30, 2020
I received the same threat this morning. Blackmailed my business reputation if I don’t pay $2k in bitcoin. From this address: ines.jaynes@ . I reported it and took a screen shot and deleted. Scary.
MacyDon't use …
April 30, 2020
I was unable to send you my information. Your site would not accept it after all the work of posting it. Why?
Lauren M
April 30, 2020
While this may be "old news" I have had a recent experience with this as well. I received multiple bitcoin blackmail emails about a week ago. For me the alarming part was that they had my current password. I changed it of course, and reported it as well but it makes me very uneasy.
SB
April 30, 2020
Yep, got this same scam last week with a follow up today. It was a very old Linked In password.
Got them too
May 01, 2020
I've recieved 5 in the last wek and I just put them in my SPAM folder. They all have the same title but they aree all from different names and email addresses...on an OUTLOOK account. I see the address it comes from and they are all from outlook accounts. It peeves me off more than worries me because they just keep trying to scare me into sending them bitcoins...not going to happen I assure you.
Denver
May 01, 2020
What what category of complaint should we use? There wasn’t one that was specifically for email threats
Itsme
May 01, 2020
I received a few of these password emails the past few days. They are now going to Spam as the email is outlook.com This happened many years ago (10+) and now recirculating. They picked up the password from something I didn't care to be secure. Could be Monster as someone mentioned. Not worried about the threats with the vulgar name calling and circulating some non-existing video to porn sites. They are phishing for a response. Just block outlook.com extensions and go on your merry way.
159Tiffany
May 08, 2020
I received this email today 9:22 a.m. from Boote Vatter jsvinazzj@ saying I had 24 hours to send bitcoins or they were going to send videos of me to all my contacts on my phone, facebook & instagram if I did not pay them 0.3 bitcoins. I filed complaint but should I report to law enforcement too?
SMC
May 08, 2020
I just opened this kind of email from Debi Radochia
RMC
May 08, 2020
I got the same email as well numerous times this week. Apparently an old password is out on the dark web. It is scary. The obvious short term solution is to change your password if you happen to still use the password they have. In most cases, people have already done this. I don't have a FB account like many of you. I have reported this scam to the FTC and the FBI internet crime division: www.ic3.gov/ default.aspx. They go into my junk mail but I have been getting at least one a day for the last 5 days. They are very annoying!
Midnightfixx
May 01, 2020
I received one of these emails today, my camera is always covered so I know this is a scam. They did have an old password that I haven't used in a long time, can't even remember where its from. They did ask for 2000 dollars btc but I choose not to. I'll just have to wait for the consequences.
Wayne
May 01, 2020
Just got one of these today-- was a bit freaked out. Happy to see this website. Changed some passwords just in case.
Wayne
May 01, 2020
Just got one of these today-- was a bit freaked out. Happy to see this website. Changed some passwords just in case.
Bitcoinscam
May 01, 2020
I received an email today. I want to report it but not sure what category to use. Please let me know. Thanks!
Tired of it
May 02, 2020
I have now received three of these emails in the last week. I wish they would stop because they aggravating and stressful. The password is one that I might have used but I don't know what website I would have used it on. I also recently had my Twitter account hacked but I never use it and couldn't remember the password for it. I since deactivated that account.
Jazzfan58 Don'…
May 02, 2020
I just filed a complaint yesterday on this exact scam!! I haven't found how they got my password yet, but I'll keep at changing them all. Thank you for this!! Makes me feel a little better!!
LEHM Don't us…
May 02, 2020
I received two Bitcoin scam emails this past week. I know of three other people that received the same emails. These scammers are creeps! Both of my emails came from female names. They supposedly have taken videos of a sexual nature and will share with everyone on my email and phone contact list, unless I get them 2000.00 dollars in Bitcoin. They tell you how to do the Bitcoin transaction and you have one day to do it. They both also had my password to an account I had with Amazon. If they indeed had a video, they might think that a fat 76 year old woman performing the sexual deeds they said they had, would cause people to throw up!! Wherever you creeps are located, even in other countries, remember that God will be your judge someday.
mom
June 04, 2020

In reply to by LEHM Don't us…

Amen to that. God is my witness. Not too concerned with these stupid threats. I’m getting these emails this week. Got them a year ago too. The PW they claim to have is only similar to a PW I have. It’s a scam. Haha if they want to send out videos of us tossing toys to our dog, then have at it. That’s the most wild thing I or my family do.
Shell
May 02, 2020
I got the threatening bitocin email. It sounds like what everyone else is getting. They do have a password I use for some things but not Facebook. It scared me because they knew a password. Thank you all for your comments because it did make me feel better.
concerned
May 03, 2020
I got this email yesterday claiming they had accessed my camera and had video footage of me "pleasuring myself" and if I did not send them a large sum in Bitcoin, then they would send this video to all my friends and family.