A research was conducted by the cyber crime investigation firm of UK Digital Shadows which was then reported in The Next Web that the cyber criminals have managed to generate around $332,000 in Bitcoin from a blackmail scam which is email-based. These funds were sent from more than 3,100 unique addresses of Bitcoin.
In 2017, the scam was reported for the first time but in 2018 the cases of fraud flooded throughout the year.
The funds ended up in 92 different bitcoin addresses believe to belong to the same organization, that could reportedly be making an average of $540 per victim.
Scammer’s tactic to earn Bitcoin:
The publication has referred to them as ‘sextortionists’. Sextortionists are reported to send the users an email that would include a known password as “proof” they hacked and claimed to have video evidence of them seeing adult content online. The sender blackmails them by leaking with the footage if a ransom is not paid in Bitcoin.
The below tweets show that the attack is still going on:
I keep getting emails threatening to send videos of me with my todger out to all my contacts unless I send them a shedload of bitcoins. The #Sextortion scammers are really boring
— Tim Trent (@AluciaCharter) February 18, 2019
Here’s a new form of cryptoblackmail. A friend received this out of the blue. Presumably, it’s getting sent to everyone on the haveibeenpwnd list.
Be careful out there, never pay, never negotiate. pic.twitter.com/VFl5s1duCe
— Emin Gün Sirer (@el33th4xor) July 11, 2018
Operation of Scammers:
The report by UK Firm clearly shows that the ‘sextortion’ operation was highly developed one, as scammers were trying to hire more people to help them target high-net-work individuals.
Those who were hired would be getting high salaries, up to $768,000 per annum These cyber criminals have been particularly using social media to target their victims.
The emails were sent from 5 different continents. Majority of the emails were from Vietnam, Brazil, and India. Scammers from these nations are said to be behind 8.5, 5.3, and 4.7 percent of the total number of “sextortion” attempts respectively. It is possible that the email servers could have been compromised too as part of the attack.
As per the reports, these scammers are turning to social media and targeting the high net worth individuals.