Extortion email scams on the rise

19th November 2018

Over the course of the last year a particular kind of email scam has been on the rise, known as a sextortion scam, the email attempts to extort money from you by blackmailing you. The email will normally contain personal information about yourself such as, your postcode, address or password making it appear more convincing.

So how does it work?

The information shown in the email is used to convince you that the scammer knows more than they do about you. The email then claims to have hijacked your computer, stolen all your contact information and then threatens to share your indecent browsing history accompanied with images stolen from your web cam to all your contacts unless you pay up.

The fee will normally vary from $500 to $2000 and the scammer will ask for it to be transferred to their bitcoin account.

The scammers will be sending these types of emails to hundreds of thousands of people and as convincing as they can sound because they reveal some of your personal information, they are normally playing a numbers game. They hope a small percentage of people will panic and pay up.

Where did they get my information?

Over the last few years some of the major companies such as LinkedIn, Facebook and many others have had major security breaches which have resulted in personal data being stolen. This data which could include personal information about yourself has then likely been sold on the dark web.

Your personal information could have been stolen years ago and sat dormant on the dark web just waiting to be used against you.

The email will normally claim that they have installed malware on your computer/device and are tracking everything you do. This is normally another scare tactic attempt to get you to pay up.

What should I do if I receive an email?

If you receive one of these types of emails that reveal a password you have used in the past or are still actively using now, we highly recommend that you change your password everywhere it has been used.

Whilst the claim that they have installed malware on your computer/device is normally fake, it can’t do any harm to run a complete scan of your device using software such as MalwareBytes or any other anti-malware software as an extra safety precaution. 

More information and other sources

This type of email scam has been big news recently and listed below are some further reading that you might find useful. If you have any queries or concerns about spam email, spam filtering or security please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.

The Independent


Action Fraud Police


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