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How to Deal with Sextortion Scams?

Sextortion is a new type of scam started in the past few years and rapidly increasing. I have received many of these emails and ignored them however some of my clients received such emails and they got worried and contacted me for help so I decided to create this blog to help others who receive such emails and wondering what they should do.

How to determine if a sextortion email you received is a scam or true?

It is pretty simple. If a hacker/scammer has access to your device and stole some valuable or private photos or recorded/captured some nude images/videos of you they show it to you (they usually put them on YouTube with a private link and give you the link or attach the photo to the email), so you know whatever they claim is true. Other than this most likely the email you received is a Sextortion scam and fake.

Unfortunately, similar to most scam emails, Sextortion scams emails do not come from real email addresses so do not waste your time to locate the sender’s email address location or company. Therefore blocking the sender’s email address or IP doesn’t help too as they switch every time with the new emails they send.

If they provided proof that you can see it on the email or text message (such as the picture is attached and visible without downloading a file and running it or a video link on YouTube) then you need to contact the FBI right away. If you believe you’re a victim of sextortion or know someone else who is, call your local FBI office or toll-free at 1-800-CALL-FBI.

Here are the things you usually see in sextortion scam emails:

  1. Most of the time (not always) it comes from an email address of a company (note that this is an illegal act and a wise person would not use their real email address to do this otherwise they will be jailed for many years). In some cases, the sender’s email is shown as your own email (they don’t really send it from your email and they are only spoofing it).
  2. They claim they have proof but they don’t show you the actual image/or videos on YouTube. Instead, they either don’t show it to you or they want you to download a file and open/run the file to see the proof.
  3. They are not specific to an incident, for example, they don’t say how they got access to these or where they had met you online to acquire these and instead they say they have access to all devices, all websites, all social media (without mentioning which ones exactly).
  4. Then they threaten you that if you do not comply and give them some money using cryptocurrency they will show these videos of you doing nasty stuff to all of your friend’s emails or social media contacts.
  5. Most of the time request a cryptocurrency value between $500-$3000
  6. They also educate you on how to buy and transfer bitcoin.

Here is an example of a real Sextortion Email:

Example of a sextortion email scam.

What to do after receiving a sextortion scam email?

  • Never Respond to Sextortion Scams: Do not engage (do not reply to the scammer, even for fun) with the emails. Some people may reply back to let the scammer know they are aware of the scam. This gives the scammer more clues that the email exists, sometimes the IP address of your device, etc. It is better to avoid unnecessary tasks that may give other opportunities to hackers.
  • Never Download Any Attachments: Sometimes scammers or hackers attach a zip file or any other file format and say that the proof of your illegal actions or nude photos or videos are in that file so you can believe what they say is true. Unfortunately, if you run any of those files on your device you’ll get hacked and this time they will do any harm possible to get the money from you.
  • Never Click On Any Links In The Scam Emails: Sometimes scammers or hackers include a link and say that the proof of your illegal actions or nude photos or videos are in that file so you can believe what they say is true (most popular email providers such as Gmail block malicious attachments so hackers/scammers instead of attaching a file they provide a link). When you click on these links a file will be downloaded to your device. Unfortunately, if you run any of those files on your device you’ll get hacked and this time they will do any harm possible to get the money from you.
  • Delete the Email Right Away: This is just to make sure you don’t click or someone else checking your email clicks on the links by mistake
  • Helping Others: Try educating family and friends so they don’t become a victim of these sextortion scammers. Watch These Great Videos To Better Understand How These Scam Work and How Many People Easily Become Victims and Pay Them. It is your responsibility to help others.
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