Crypto Scammers Resort To ‘Sextortion’ For Stealing $300,000 Worth Of BTC Using Blackmail Emails
Over the past two years, hackers have made away with over $300,000 worth of Bitcoin by sending blackmail emails to individual investors. Because the threats involve porn, the scam is known as ‘Sextortion’.
In its first year, the fraudulent scheme was unknown to many. However, it came into the limelight in 2018 following a sharp increase in the number of its victims. The report from Digital Shadows indicated that the criminals targeted almost 800,000 emails and stole Bitcoin from 3,100 wallet addresses.
After receiving the Bitcoin from their victims, it was then distributed across 92 wallet addresses. On average, each of the victims lost $540 worth of Bitcoin.
According to the report, the term ‘Sextortion’ was coined after it emerged that the criminals claimed to be in possession of videos of their victims watching porn. If the email recipient failed to meet the criminals’ demands, the video would be published online.
Interestingly, the hackers used a variety of styles when drafting the threatening emails. Some were carelessly written and mostly ended up in the recipient’s spam folders. Others were sent from new Outlook addresses and appeared orderly and legit.
A close examination of the IP addresses of the email servers revealed that the criminals had several bases across the world. Most of the messages originated from Vietnam, followed by Brazil and India respectively. There is also a high probability that the IP addresses were spoofed, making it impossible to pinpoint the exact base of operation of this scheme.
As the number of victims increased, more operatives were added to assist the criminals. The new recruits made as much as $360,000 per annum, according to the report by Digital Shadows. For those with advanced computing and programming skills, the remuneration was doubled.
The majority of the targets were individuals who held prominent positions in blue-chip companies. After mining information about their targets, they would then send blackmailing messages demanding for Bitcoin as ransom.
To find more about their targets, the criminals would scour through their social media profile, primarily LinkedIn. Depending on the job description, they would then formulate an approach of extorting Bitcoin.