I'm not really sure what audience I'm writing this for because no man I know visits porn sites, let alone acknowledge it if they did, so we'll just say this is for general information purposes. I share this information just so you won't feel left out.
Not because I think you visit porn sites on the down low.
The emails arrive in various forms depending on the scam. The common thread is they all revolve around passwords lost to data breaches from hacks like Adobe's massive breach years back.
A lot of us reading this article are customers of the Adobe that suffered fallout from that breach. We are somewhat used to getting threatening emails with old passwords since it happens from time to time. Add in some other breaches and some of us get it from multiple sources with increasing regularity.
Holidays…. expect the emails. Start of summer… expect the emails and so forth. It seems anytime quick money is needed to be made this scam kicks into high gear. Or it may be another dump of personal data from other breaches that brings attention to this easy scam.
The body of the letter is usually the same claiming to know your password, and they have signed in to your computer or whatever to gain access to your webcam to record you doing dubious things in a vigorous manner while watching porn.
Said video of those dubious things will then be sent to everyone on your email/friends list/Christmas list and even your grandma if they can find a way to get it to her. Don't bother going to the authorities or police they warn you!
Then you are given a deadline to pay… or else those dubious things done vigorously will haunt the internet, your friends and you for cyber-eternity.
Just enough truth to scare the living hell out of anyone that is naïve about the internet and their usage of it.
The payment is always in odd amounts… like $989 or $890… the big boys and girls round out their demands at $2,000. All payable in Bitcoin to an address conveniently provided by the scammers.
Of course, common sense helps so let's just say for THE SAKE OF THIS ARTICLE you got one of these little scam puppies and you wonder if you should pay up.
Now I'm not an expert but if you pay now… are you going to pay the subsequent demands that come in similar form from other scammers or even the same scammer with a different handle?
Every time some new or wannabe scammer comes across this form letter and your lost information on the dark web you will get one of these letters, maybe even several a week.
So… think about your situation. In one case I'm privy to, the person being extorted only uses a desktop with no webcam. Had they thought of this it would have saved some major anxiety as that is the first hole in the story. No webcam… no video.
And yes… being as it was two adult men we acted like adult men do and did everything but address the obvious… like visiting porn sites.
Doesn't matter if you visit “those” sites or not. Without a camera how can they pull this off? I'm guessing the tremendous pressure this sextortion email placed on this person affected their ability to think clearly at the time.
Thank the stars he didn't pay it because as sure as death and taxes…more variations of the same email started arriving.
Just imagine how it feels to desperately send money only to have it happen again… and again…and again.
So in summary:
- Don't visit porn sites. Eliminate a lot of the threats. Of course, we are talking about the real world here so that is not going to be a viable option for whatever reasons.
- Police your webcam. For goodness’ sake… if it's a laptop put a piece of tape over the lens. If you are on a desktop… unplug the camera.
- Recognize the password they sent in the subject line? Should be an old one from a previous data breach at someplace you had an account. Hopefully, you've stopped using the password long ago. If not, then go kamikaze and change that password everywhere it's used. Don't even finish this article till you get those passwords secured. It's THAT important.
By the way… if you are on my friends list and haven't received a video of me then I'm going assume I'm in the clear.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.