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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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JillM
May 13, 2020
Got one today too. It was sent to an email account I have been trying to phase out, I shut it down today. Really creepy people in this world, disturbing
ak
May 13, 2020
I got this exact email today... 5/13/20 asking for $2000 in bitcoin. I had used the password they mentioned in the email for a couple of accounts including in monster.com a while ago.
Hey you
May 14, 2020
I got the same email on May 12, 2020 and it really rattled me. It was so creepy to think someone hacked into my account and knew an old password! My girlfriend looked the scam up and found this on the FTC website. They use threatening tactics and blackmail to get what they wanted, which was Bitcoins (2K). This is the first I've heard of this one.
JRIV
May 14, 2020
I received an email yesterday in a similar fashion. They used an old password that I had several years ago. Like many of you, they asked for $2,000 in bitcoin within 24 hours. I submitted a complaint with the FBI through there website, www.ic3.gov.
LH
May 14, 2020
Just got two e-mailed threats 5-14-20 demanding $2000 in bitcoin claiming they have one of (very old from 2006) passwords and they're threatening to expose me to family, friends and coworkers for doing something embarrassing and personal in front of my camera's computer. First, I never have done such a thing and 2nd, my camera has been covered. They're threatening and nasty letters - just reported the two rather wordy and poorly written blackmails to the FTC - definitely not from someone who speaks colloquial English
Hope28
May 14, 2020
I have received blackmailing email yesterday. They wanted me to buy USD 2000 in bitcoins and sent it to link they provided. otherwise they will send incriminating video of me to my friends... It was scary because they had my password to my bank account. But I kept cool head. Don't believe these scammers and report them.
Britney
May 14, 2020
Got a email if this variety today person’s email was “Kurtis” an old password of mine was the subject line and it went on to try and blackmail saying they had screenshots of a webcam when i was looking at a porn site. And even included a (you have interesting taste lol) what they heck? I don’t even have a webcam only iPhones. Also mentioned something about a Facebook contact list (i disabled my Facebook Account over two years ago) they threatened the same, to send money within 24 hours, 2000 bitcoin money. I reported to FTC and blocked the email account and deleted it. Wish i would have screenshot it to send to the fbi site. This honestly scared me to death, although i feel better knowing other people have seen this scam. It’s so sad at this horrible time that this is going on. Hopefully, i will not receive anymore emails like this. Gave me a panic attack. But it is definitely an old password that was compromised she’s ago. I would advise for people to update passwords more diligently as i certainly will now.
cdtocco
May 14, 2020
Just opened an email from Kermie with the same threat. Old password in subject line. Made my heart skip a few beats knowing someone had one of my old passwords. All recently changed anyway so I’m not worried but freaked me out a little nonetheless.
Jollyfun20
May 27, 2020
I received email dated 05/14/2020 at 2:17pm in my Yahoo mail from Xavier
Jessica
May 15, 2020
I received one of these on May 13. Thank goodness this page exists to confirm it was scam. The person put an old password in the subject line and I swear I felt my blood run cold. They claim they have a "cam video" of me which is how I knew it was fake but honestly, the parts about knowing my contacts, etc. was pretty scary. I submitted a complaint on the FTC website (under Robocalls, unwanted telemarketing, text or SPAM) but let me know if I filed it under the wrong heading. I wasn't sure if this was the correct category.
Matt
May 15, 2020
Thank you Bridget Small and FTC for the clear, direct message and for facilitating this public discourse. These hackers seek to capitalize on fear and ignorance. We regain our power through forums like this.
Don't btraynor…
May 15, 2020
I got one of these today I don't understand why they haven't been caught and punished for this. But thank you for the information and that is not something you really have to worry about I will look into changing my passwords again.
LT
May 15, 2020
This is so helpful. I got one of these emails 3 days ago giving me 24 hours to send $2000 in bitcoins or they would send videos to 9 random friends. It starts off with an old password and then threatens to make me spend my life in embarrassment if I don't comply. Unfortunately I cancelled the email account before I saved a copy of the email. It was quite unnerving but it did cause me to change the passwords on all my accounts and not use the same one on any of the accounts. It also prompted me to do the research that led me to this site. If these scammers would use their ingenuity for good they could make a difference.
Kelly
May 15, 2020
I received one this morning after I purchased a set of sheets on line. The screen at first flashed with an old maiden name and an old password. I removed the old password but did not realize the old last name until after I ordered. I contacted the selling company right away. Here is what they said. "To be perfectly honest, Im not entirely sure why your name would have changed if you entered it manually and did not use a payment account like PayPal or ShopPay to enter your billing information". So for now, I can only guess it was something picked up from an old paypal account which was never used under the old maiden name, but that sort of information is total public record and easy to simply google. The did use the auto fill. Lesson learned, never auto fill because it is is easy. I did report it this morning. Please everyone, stay safe out there. <3
Andy
May 15, 2020
I got a bunch of emails today from different senders with an old but correlation the time password. It may or may not have been a site I would not visit today....
roberta
May 15, 2020
I received a blackmail scam today. I was threatened with a release of a porno film of myself, if I didn’t send $2000 in bitcoins. They had my email and one of my passwords. I have deleted the message, and will ignore any future contact.
M_cit_5
May 15, 2020
Got the same this week and it was demanding exactly as the others have mentioned in this thread. It is scary that they can get these passwords....but their claims are far fetched and if you can slow your heart rate to think clearly you will realize its BS. Constant vigilance on the password front required forever.
Suburbanite
May 16, 2020
I've got two of these emails over the past few days. They quoted a password I use for all logins that don't involve money. I have thought for a while that this was a risk. So now I am slowly changing all my passwords to complex ones. That's going to take a while but it will be worth it.
Riggs
May 16, 2020
I've received x3 emails now demanding bitcoin donations in various amounts. I've laughed & ignored them all, but they do have a very old password I can only assume has come from a recent data breach. They also claim they have all my email contacts, social media contacts & all recent activity on my laptop (which I barely use). They money they're claiming is laughable & I don't have, so post away, mate. Send this video you have of me, we can all have a good laugh about it.
onthenose
May 16, 2020
I just got this email the other night. It happened eerily after a seller on Craigslist started info mining me and threatened to publish my (and family) personal (yet public - address, phone number) info on sex dating sites for trying to make sure he wasn't a scammer. Needless to say, I called the police. I called them because, what are the chances, I actually DO have videos on an adult site out there (without my face). It all sounded too legit except for the fact I keep my webcam covered and my other cam unplugged when not in use. The password they provided is a password I have used on many sites over the years, so I'm not even sure where to begin on changing that one. I'm glad to see it is a legitimate scam and the guy from Craigslist wasn't trying to blackmail me. I just received a second email in my spam folder today.
Linked In
May 16, 2020
Same for me. I read about Linked In on here and sure enough, there was a fake linked in profile for me using the email and password, which was an old password.
Dwhitt
May 16, 2020
I have gotten three emails with different sender names on them in just the past few hours. Going to delete them and update my passwords.
Tired
June 08, 2020
I received an email blackmail to pay in bitcoin to them or else they will release a video of me. The email came from iomnuh@
donotpaythescammers
May 17, 2020
I received one this morning from ‘Yoshiko’ demanding $2000 of Bitcoin. I’ve just deleted it. From how the script goes.. it’s obvious it’s a load of nonsense.
Savvannhhaa
May 17, 2020
I just got this email today asking for 2k in bitcoin. I knew it was a scam since it said it had my Facebook contacts. I don’t have Facebook. However it did have the correct password I had just used to log into an account on my smart tv. They threatened me by saying they had porn video of me....not. And it said they had used my webcam to watch us. Very disturbing to say the least but I knew none of what they said was true. Needless to say, I will change passwords.
2020 scam
May 17, 2020
I just got this email today. I just logged in to HULU and Netflix on Friday. Low and behold theses accounts were the only two that had that password. It is one of those with the breAch
Don&#039;t use your…
May 27, 2020
Threatening email from ovxlau@ Wanting me to send bitcoins or attacking my emails
rock
May 17, 2020
Received bitcoin scam email with partial password used many year before especially for job websites. The content is exactly same as mentioned by others with ransom amount 2000$
Nita
May 18, 2020
I keep on receiving a lot of emails from pornographic websites. I’ve reported them as spam and blocked those types of website and emails they still get though to my inbox still. When I check my emails in the morning; there’s like 200 pornographic emails and I’m tired of it! I’ve tried to investigate and email those emails back; but emails come back undeliverable.. Any advise, anyone? Thanks
Larry
May 18, 2020
Got one this morning. They got an old password from an account I haven't used in years. I don't have a cam on my computer and I don't have a facebook account, but the fact that they had ANY correct password, active or not, was jarring. Filed a report.
ABCDEFG
May 18, 2020
I received a blackmail threat also..the person/s have my facebook password and are attempting to BLACK mail me. I am reaching out to report it.
MissB
May 27, 2020
I received the same “Porn site” email to my yahoo email address. It was from “Ronny” at bglahl@ . I can’t remember where or when I used the password. Other people have said their password mentioned was from MySpace. That might be the case for me too. Thank you for the info I’m going to report it too.
joe
May 18, 2020
I got an email yesterday from someone using the email name of Neill. He had an old password. Claiming he had me using porn sites and making an obscene video that he caught in my web cam. Going to send to all my contacts if I did not send$2000 in bit coin I had done neither but it scares you. This website helped I also took to my local police and they said is a scam
Lucknow
May 18, 2020
Noticed one today in spam. Aggressive tone. Tried to send it to report phishing but it was bounced back again. So I guess i am due for more of these.
john
May 19, 2020
I had this a few days ago, they claimed they hacked my website database and for a fee of $2000 BTC they would fix / secure it. Their BTC address is: 1HGxLfhnMzPEzWD7YeBwtWUGj3E2Q2YJKE
Spiggy
May 19, 2020
I received the threat yesterday on a email account I currently use but honestly have no memory of ever using the password listed. The threat demanded $200000 bit coin. So the scammers are still active.
virginia
May 19, 2020
I received the same email yesterday. Reported it to FTC as well as bitcoinabuse.com
DE
May 19, 2020
FTC Can we get an update on this? Has any real information/videos been sent to contact list? This is very alarming stuff and updates are needed Thanks!
Boston1
May 27, 2020
Received the scam-extortion communication from a: "Madelina " on May 19th. Can forward the e-mail to the FTC if it's wanted.
Triley
May 19, 2020
1HemcRxg9GjasY*GaduieWusjgH2W1q4R6a. This is where they wanted me to send the money
joman
May 19, 2020
I did not get an email today, but instead I got a text message. Same routine (video, quoted my 10+-year old street address, threatened me to pay up via a BTC url, and as proof, gave me one of my really old passwords that I don't even use anymore). It is quite scary! They should be caught and have to pay dearly.
jtx
May 26, 2020

In reply to by joman

So glad someone posted they received it in a text message, I also received the threat as a photo of a text yesterday with a QR code to send the Bitcoin. Feel better after reading all the comments, they did not include any passwords or email addresses just the threat. After reading other messages I just changed my LinkdIn password.
Mako2559
May 26, 2020

In reply to by joman

I got a text too, just yesterday. Maybe they are switching from emails to text...Hope Karma catches up to them!
Dontbeafraid
May 19, 2020
I received some sort of letter year ago. There was something about internet history and porn. Was scary, but of course I did nothing and nothing happened. And I got email like You in April, nothing happened. Trust me, if they had something on You, they would show it in mail. Sounds realistic only because almost all watch porn, but its not a crime. Sorry about my English.
DE
May 20, 2020
Very scary stuff and I’m glad I found this website. I have visited some of these sites which put even more stress on the situation but being that everyone is receiving the same generic message gives me some relief. I also checked out Bitcoin Scams and there is a huge article on this . Supposedly these emails have been sent to MILLIONS of people worldwide. It is labeled Sextortion. Unfortunately some people were scared enough to make payments and they have profited $500,000 on this. My question is why is bitcoin not shut down ? Without a way for these creeps to receive funds this whole thing would go away.
IPmeTOO
May 27, 2020
Got one of those the other day as well requesting Bitcoin payment because of an old password that they obtained. email from: dmbkpn@v
Bob
May 21, 2020
I just received such a message a text message demanding .3 bitcoin to 1E8QYfpo9AmGxVHy6TqHT6gp8WTAvL4bd5 The funny thing is their proof was a password I've never used.
Prettyneekay
May 21, 2020

In reply to by Bob

I got a text message too asking for the same amount
Jamie P
May 23, 2020

In reply to by Bob

I got this as a text message from one phone number yesterday asking for .3 bitcoin and another text message from a different number today asking for 300 bitcoin. Same threats that these e-mails are listing too. Yesterday the deadline given was 21 hours. Today the deadline given was 24 hours. The threat didn't even list my name ... it listed my father's. I just deleted them.
tyronew888
May 27, 2020
1GY*KPJeTUzN11yFsRvqtTu9LXXqXbr7FTs I guess there's no way to trace who's at the end of bitcoin wallet eh ? Or an email domain? vlnrcv@