A sextortion Bitcoin scam has surfaced in the United Kingdom with almost 9,500 incidents reported within the last month.
While the internet is often touted as a way for people to have easy access to knowledge and to communicate with each other across the world, the reality is that much of internet use is related to pornography.
It is reported that 30% of the data transferred across the internet is related to porn.
Naturally, many people wish to keep their browsing history private, which can make them susceptible to sextortion Bitcoin scams. One such scam is now active in the United Kingdom.
Reports are pouring into Action Fraud, the fraud and cybercrime reporting center for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, about this Bitcoin scam. Victims are receiving an email with their own password as the subject line.
⚠️ Alert: So far this month, we’ve received over 9,000 reports about #sextortion emails!
If you get one, do not reply or be pressured into paying.
— Action Fraud (@actionfrauduk) April 23, 2020
A demand for payment in bitcoins is contained within the email.
If the victim does not pay, they are told that a video showing them visiting porn websites will be released to family, friends, and even employers. Hence, the term “sextortion.
Usually, the extortionist will say that the video was taken by the victim’s webcam being hacked.
So far, this sextortion Bitcoin scam has been highly prevalent. Action Fraud says they have received 9,473 reports of this particular email scam in the last month, with 200 being reported last week.
Self-isolation leads to rise in porn viewing, regular online viewing
As a large percentage of the world’s population is currently staying at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, it stands to reason that viewing of online porn has increased.
Meanwhile, regular online viewing is up dramatically, with Netflix adding 15.77 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2020. Netflix had only expected to add 7 million new subscribers.
Protection from sextortion Bitcoin scams
Discussing this new wave of sextortion, Action Fraud head Pauline Smith says:
“The messages can look particularly convincing because they often include the recipient’s genuine password. The criminals sending these emails are ruthless, unscrupulous individuals who don’t care about the impact of their actions on victims […] They seek to exploit people’s emotions – shaming and scaring the recipient enough, that they make a payment.”
Authorities also stress that people should not click on any links in the email or reply to the email. The email should be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency, and then deleted.
They added that victims should never pay the Bitcoin extortion demand. Doing so could lead to additional demands for funds in the future.
Another precaution people can take is to cover up their webcam when it is not in use.