Phishing scams are always a fascinating thing to study. Sometimes, one could gain the impression that they are learning from their mistakes and trying harder. However, other times, it feels like these scammers have knocked their heads and lost a good third of their brainpower.
The sad fact is: It still works.
As the world becomes more digital for a longer stretch of time, the age-old phishing scammer will find new ways to both send their malicious emails and steal money. The most “high tech” versions of these have an attached file with a virus on or lead you to an illegitimate clone of a real banking firm.
Some, however, make use of empty threats no one wants to call their bluff on.
The so-called “Sextortionist” Phishing scam works on a pure bluff. The person sent an email with some vague threat of having tracked their browsing history and recorded their webcam interactions. These sextortionists then demand payment via Bitcoin, attaching an address below. They might even ‘substantiate’ this threat by showing breached email passwords as “proof.”
These sorts of scams have a higher success rate than the average Nigerian Prince scheme. However, as security companies are learning, they integrate filtering systems to block suspect emails from ever reaching your inbox. In direct retaliation, phishing scheme actors try to work through the filters, reword the message, then send it straight back out into the world. This filtering works on bitcoin addresses as well, so the criminals were left with no choice but to find something else.
Cue the Lightcoin
It’s been noted by Cofense that these malicious actors are going for Litcoin accounts instead: Ones that haven’t been added to the filter list. Undoubtedly, these filters will be updated to integrate Litecoin accounts, and the criminals will be forced to shift gears to another altcoin, and so the pattern continues.
There are only a dozen or so cryptocurrencies listed on major exchanges, so it’s very likely this shift will take twelve or so steps to pan out. After that, the criminals are forced to innovate yet again. Alas, innovation is something these criminals do not lack in the slightest.
From Sextortion to the Queen
Near the end of September, a particularly creative scammer came up with the idea of sending his phishing scam out via snail-mail. This scam involves the Queen of England, where the scammer claims to be the Queen’s secretary asking prominent figures for $2.4 million to
“help the British economy.”
Sadly, it still held horrible grammar, even if the criminal sent it to the most English country in the world.