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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 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.

Scott
May 21, 2020
I received something almost exactly like this, but via text not email. Has anyone gotten text?
Scott
May 21, 2020
I received a text message today that matches this almost exactly. Concerning that they had not only my name and old password, but was able to match it to a phone number.
Prettyneekay
May 21, 2020
Did anyone get one of these via text? I got one in my email and deleted it then a text message a few days later.
Woowoo
May 21, 2020
I received 3 of these emails in my spam folder. I already submitted to ic3.gov. Should I submit here too?
Esan
May 22, 2020
I got a text message, too. Same routine porn threat with my name and password; asking for 0.3 bitcoin to 19NYf7AvNKsQ1119KBEPzMsZMuqjHVVdES. A week ago, I noticed that someone was trying to login to my Yahoo account. Glad I am using a password manager and two-factor authentication!
Sjstrange
May 22, 2020
Mine was actually sent as a text message to one of our phone lines.. has anyone receives texts or all just spam emails..
Agent 47
June 08, 2020
This is a scam that’s been happening since 2008 to numerous people around the world they threaten my friend a couple months ago stating that they had video of him on his WebCams and maybe he should cover his camera next time thing is He doesn’t have any cameras in the house this is a big scam the email is auto generated. Don’t send any money to these people. This is one email that it is coming from POSTMASTER@ When you try to copy the email it is replaced with numbers for the spaces so that you can’t read the message when it is sent out how this is done is when they type the message the white out the numbers for the spaces so that when you try to copy it and paste it on a new form the numbers appear. I too also was hit with Scam unfortunately for them I am the wrong person to do this to.
Text Scam
May 23, 2020
This is the text I received on Thursday, May 22. guilt for the rest of your life. I know a lot of things concerning you. Your current facebook contact list, mobile phone contacts as well as all the onli u a one time, no negotiable offer. Purchase $ 3000 in BTC and send them to this address 14pTS1D2dvGuzaoe5Z9XhrKKTZfZWd9TUu (copy-paste-it) (If you do not understand how, look online how to acquire BTC. Do not waste my precious time). After you send this 'donation' (why don't we call it that?), I will vani ng by triggering your camera. I own the whole recording. In the case you think I 'm playing around, simply reply proof and I will be forwarding the parti
Jonathan
May 26, 2020

In reply to by Text Scam

Got the EXACT same txt on May 25th! Showed it to local police. One of them said they received one. Said to ignore it and block number.
Love the Beach
May 27, 2020

In reply to by Text Scam

I got the exact same text. I showed it to the police and they agreed its a scam. I changed some passwords and put a block on my phone. It is very unsettling. I wish they could catch and punish these creeps.
Whoa
May 23, 2020
Got it through text. So did the website have a phone number Because texting seems more personal
Mike T
May 23, 2020
This just happened to my younger sister. I took a picture of it on my phone and reported it as spam on hers which subsequently deleted it. Do I have to retype the message to report it or can I submit the photos?
Bmkegj
May 23, 2020
I received a text message earlier today threatening me to send $1000 worth of BTC in the next 24 hours or else they would release a so called sexual video they apparently had of me along with my search history for the past 132 days. They said they had my FB contacts & phone contacts as well that they would send it to. It was very scary how the message was written, it didn’t read like the normal spam messages I get.
Aioi
May 24, 2020
here's a scammers wallet beware18W3xQ4ZC18ZmwqvAVNYyh99F89ErharoK
ebp12345
May 24, 2020
I recently received one of the blackmail messages via text message. Does this mean that my device or one of my accounts is hacked? I am not sure what steps to take to prevent this from becoming a problem.
Big A
May 24, 2020
I received the same email but sadly I didn’t see it until today lol They would made me a famous porn star lol
LPA 22355
May 25, 2020
May 24th. 2020 I received a very graphic phone text message stating that they had very compromising video of me while watching porn movie. They said they had down load malware on my computer and took the video of me. Funny part is my computer doesn't have a camera installed or hooked up. They stated I had 24 hours to send 1100 dollars to 1MFHsDFBzAa2hZv7qj5yvXQGmdpW9e and they stated they would make my life a living hell if I didn't pay and it was non negotiable. Text message came from phone number 929-298-7803.
wildlifefoc
May 25, 2020
I got one of these today as a cell text message. Demanded $1000 of bitcoin or it would release video from my phone camera to 7 random members of my contact list. The text message was an image with the text of the messsge a QR code to use to send the payment.
Bob
May 25, 2020
I got a threat like this just today. Saying the exact same things mentioned in other messages here. But it wasn’t an email. It was a text message. Are they using cell numbers as well as email addresses?
Butterworth
May 25, 2020
Has anyone received a text? I was emailed a week ago or so, and today I just received a text with a similar threat. They just sent a photo of the email threat rather than texting it out . 402 251 2910 was the number
Disney
June 05, 2020

In reply to by Butterworth

I just received one this morning saying they’ll be releasing a video of me doing things if I don’t send them $500 via bitcoin. It said I had 24 hours to do so and it reminds me of an episode on black mirror.
Anon
May 25, 2020
So I got one of these messages this morning and I was kind of sca6this was real but then I read the rest and realized it's a scam. They someone how got access to my phone number and I never really put it anywhere. I almost never go on any porn sites but somehow they got the information. They said they got access to my Facebook contacts could that mean they got into my Facebook account.
Clark105
May 26, 2020
I received one of these threats on May 13 and immediately deleted it.
JB
May 26, 2020
I received a similar message via text message. I reported it to the FTC, FBI and local Crime Solvers website.
Mako2559
May 26, 2020
Got one yesterday but it was a text not an email. The same as what I have been reading here. The number the text came from is 402-267-9388. Anyone else get a text???
Jonathan
May 26, 2020

In reply to by Mako2559

Yes. Txt with the same wording, including the "proof" to 5 of my friends. Filed with FTC and went to local police. One of them said they got the same txt! And to block and ignore it. Mine came from a 361 area code.
RiRi333
May 26, 2020

In reply to by Mako2559

Same but the number was 402-267-9215. Reported it here and the FBI.
Jed
May 26, 2020
I don’t use a computer or email anymore, just a smartphone with cameras covered. I don’t visit porn sites. I received a pretty frightening threat by text. Same offer of proof to five contacts. Lifetime of guilt if I don’t pay a “contribution”. Have not responded. Will change pw to my phone. I know there are hack programs available which allow people to see and video victims and so I keep lenses covered and don’t even take phone with me. I suppose they can steal personal photos and texts but I live a quiet life so where is the scandal value. Of course the threats to my contacts are annoying but the reason I’m so careful is that a few of my contacts are themselves very tech savvy and dangerous. If this idiot annoys them he will not be a problem for anyone much longer.
RiRi333
May 26, 2020
I received a text message with a similar threat saying they have access to all my digital photos and videos and will send to my contacts, including Facebook, which I do not have an account, if I don’t send $1000 to bitcoin. I blocked and deleted. Has anyone else received a text and not an email?
Martha
May 27, 2020
I keep getting emails from bitcoin I delete them report to scam but you can gaurantee every other week I get another I have never delt with them at all wish they would disappear of my email!!!!
Ramata
May 27, 2020
Has anyone received this through text? I just received one this morning and am freaking out. Of course the whole script was followed... I have video of you visiting sites, will send to all your contact list unless you pay within 24 hours. They didn’t say anything specific to me though so....
GibPA
June 01, 2020

In reply to by Ramata

Yes. I received via text on May 24, 2020. Same tone of message as emails but words were slightly different. 24 hours to pay btc, compromising video, will make life a living nightmare if payment not received.
Billco
May 28, 2020
Received a text, not an email. Said that they owned a video of me and had it via spyware and had hacked FB, contact list and would send it to all contacts. Threatening to extort, demanded my attention and 1000 BTC at a listed address/acct or would send video to all contacts. Promised to " leave me alone and never bother me again if I paid."
gibPA
May 28, 2020
Received a similar threat via text a few days ago that video was recorded through spyware. The words and phrases were different than those on the emails. Is this the new twist in this scam as these criminals are constantly altering their tactics?
Jimmy
May 28, 2020
I got one as a text message - take it it’s the same scam
Ygoldberg
May 28, 2020
Bitcoin/blackmail scam against my wife (past communication with Yahoo that her phone was used in Vietnam ) probably originated from Vietnam.
Ygoldberg
May 28, 2020
Ygoldberg, Bitcoin/blackmail scam against my wife (past communication with Yahoo that her phone was used in Vietnam ) probably originated from Vietnam.
Anonymous
May 29, 2020
Parent received text from this number (715)230-3035, demanding USD 1000 in Bitcoin.
hilo’s
May 29, 2020
i just got one saying that it will expose a “video” of me doing something and that it has all my information and will send the video to 7 contacts if i don’t pay them 100
beatlephantom
May 29, 2020
I just received that email tonight. I figured it was a scam but it's reassuring to know for sure...Thanks
Chris
May 29, 2020
I also got an email. Threatening if I don’t send 2000 bitcoin in 24 hrs they’ll ruin my life... I looked up 2000 bitcoin it’s around 13million dollars! Dude if I had 13 million dollars I sure as heck wouldn’t send it to a stranger and even if they had anything to embarrass me who cares. With 13 million in my own pocket Id just move where nobody knew me lol I’m glad this information is here to reassure folks that it’s a scam happening to plenty of ppl and not true
Bilal
May 30, 2020
What should I do if I forget which web portal the password belongs to?
MDB
May 30, 2020
I received an email like this earlier today, also with an old password. It is the same as mentioned in the other comment. I have to pay $2000 in bitcoin. The message is from a Sianna 19iud1Xhx9S*1LZUYUuvx9csBfWWnfma7zd
Ai
September 09, 2020
Hi; I'm from Mexico but I do read, listen and talk English often so I'm sure I visited one of the sites this scam people monotorize. I got it like a month ago and I felt unsure for the phrasing mostly but it was weird cause I'm using a computer I don't normally use. I don't think they got an old or current password of any of my accounts that I can recall as I just send it directly to spam folder. So today Cleaning my email I found this one: Andrew Kyle
NotMyRealName
June 02, 2020
How do I report bitcoin extortion? Does bitcoin have an abuse address? Or do I report it to law enforcement? Which agency?
A tired person
June 02, 2020
I received a text in my messaging that said what others have, to send $1000 in bit coin or be exposed. It was from a yahoo email account and I didn't think to save it.
Drew
June 04, 2020
I just got an email saying to give them 700 in btc or they would send a video of me watching pornography To my contacts