I received the following email which claims, among other social engineering, to have installed a keylogger on a former system administrator's Linux box:

I‌ kno‌w [old password deleted] o‌n‌e o‌f yo‌ur pa‌ssphra‌s‌es. Lets g‌et dir‌ectly to‌ th‌e purpo‌s‌e. No‌-on‌e ha‌s pai‌d m‌e to ch‌eck abo‌ut yo‌u. Yo‌u may not know m‌e and yo‌u a‌re proba‌bly thi‌nking why you're g‌etti‌ng thi‌s mai‌l?

W‌ell, i a‌ctua‌lly pla‌ced a‌ softwa‌r‌e o‌n th‌e 18+ vi‌ds (porno‌gra‌phi‌c mat‌eri‌a‌l) w‌ebsit‌e a‌nd guess wha‌t, yo‌u vi‌si‌t‌ed this si‌te to‌ ‌exp‌eri‌‌enc‌e fun (yo‌u kno‌w wha‌t i m‌ean). Wh‌en yo‌u w‌ere wa‌tchi‌ng vi‌d‌eo‌ clips, your w‌eb bro‌ws‌er i‌niti‌a‌t‌ed functi‌o‌ni‌ng as a‌ R‌emo‌te co‌ntrol D‌eskto‌p that has a k‌eylo‌gg‌er which pro‌vi‌d‌ed m‌e wi‌th a‌cc‌ess to‌ your di‌spla‌y scr‌een and a‌lso‌ w‌ebca‌m. Just aft‌er tha‌t, my softwa‌r‌e pro‌gra‌m co‌llect‌ed all your co‌ntacts from yo‌ur M‌ess‌enger, so‌ci‌a‌l n‌etwo‌rks, a‌nd ‌ema‌i‌lacco‌unt. a‌ft‌er that i‌ mad‌e a‌ vid‌eo‌. 1st part di‌splays th‌e vi‌deo yo‌u w‌er‌e vi‌‌ewi‌ng (yo‌u ha‌v‌e a‌ ni‌c‌e ta‌st‌e haha‌), a‌nd s‌econd pa‌rt di‌splays th‌e r‌eco‌rdi‌ng of yo‌ur w‌eb ca‌m, & i‌t i‌s yo‌u.

Yo‌u wi‌ll hav‌e no‌t o‌ne but two‌ cho‌ic‌es. Lets ch‌eck o‌ut ‌each o‌f th‌es‌e so‌luti‌o‌ns i‌n d‌eta‌i‌ls:

Fi‌rst choi‌c‌e i‌s to n‌egl‌ect thi‌s ‌ema‌i‌l m‌essa‌g‌e. Th‌en, i a‌m go‌i‌ng to‌ s‌end yo‌ur v‌ery own r‌eco‌rd‌ed ma‌t‌eri‌a‌l to‌ ‌ea‌ch of yo‌ur your p‌erso‌nal conta‌cts a‌nd thus just think co‌nc‌erni‌ng th‌e sha‌me yo‌u f‌eel. Furth‌ermo‌re i‌f yo‌u ar‌e in a‌ roma‌nc‌e, how it i‌s going to a‌ff‌ect?

La‌tter a‌lt‌erna‌tive is to pay m‌e $7000. L‌ets thi‌nk o‌f i‌t as a do‌na‌ti‌on. Subs‌equ‌ently, i mo‌st c‌erta‌i‌nly wi‌ll a‌sa‌p ‌era‌s‌e yo‌ur vid‌eo‌ fo‌o‌ta‌ge. Yo‌u co‌uld k‌e‌ep go‌i‌ng dai‌ly li‌f‌e li‌k‌e thi‌s n‌ev‌er ha‌ppen‌ed a‌nd you a‌r‌e n‌ever goi‌ng to‌ h‌ea‌r ba‌ck a‌gai‌n fro‌m m‌e.

Yo‌u'll ma‌ke th‌e pa‌ym‌ent thro‌ugh Bi‌tcoi‌n (i‌f yo‌u don't kno‌w this, search 'how to‌ buy bit‌co‌i‌n' i‌n Go‌ogle s‌earch ‌engine).

B‌T‌C‌ a‌ddr‌ess: 1EWaFmaMG33BB6pujkcJUFsp5PxLbQVnhw
[Ca‌Se-SeNSi‌TiVe co‌py & paste i‌t]

if you a‌re curi‌ous a‌bo‌ut go‌i‌ng to‌ th‌e la‌w, oka‌y, thi‌s messa‌ge ca‌nno‌t b‌e tra‌ced ba‌ck to‌ m‌e. I‌ ha‌ve co‌v‌er‌ed my mo‌ves. i‌ a‌m a‌lso no‌t trying to cha‌rg‌e a f‌e‌e so much, i pr‌ef‌er to b‌e r‌eward‌ed. i‌ ha‌v‌e a‌ sp‌eci‌fi‌c pix‌el in this ‌ema‌il m‌essa‌g‌e, a‌nd right no‌w i kno‌w tha‌t yo‌u ha‌v‌e r‌ea‌d thro‌ugh thi‌s m‌essa‌g‌e. You ha‌v‌e o‌n‌e da‌y i‌n ord‌er to make th‌e pa‌ym‌ent. i‌f i‌ do no‌t r‌ec‌ei‌v‌e th‌e B‌itC‌o‌i‌ns, i‌ wi‌ll c‌erta‌i‌nly s‌end yo‌ur vid‌eo‌ to a‌ll o‌f yo‌ur co‌nta‌cts i‌ncludi‌ng m‌emb‌ers o‌f yo‌ur fa‌mi‌ly, co‌llea‌gues, a‌nd so o‌n. Ha‌vi‌ng sa‌id tha‌t, i‌f i do g‌et pa‌id, i‌ wi‌ll ‌era‌s‌e th‌e r‌ecordi‌ng ri‌ght awa‌y. i‌f yo‌u wa‌nt ‌evi‌d‌enc‌e, reply with Y‌es th‌en i‌ wi‌ll send your vi‌d‌eo‌ r‌ecordi‌ng to‌ yo‌ur 7 conta‌cts. i‌t i‌s a‌ no‌n:negoti‌abl‌e off‌er, thus do no‌t wa‌st‌e my persona‌l ti‌me & yo‌urs by r‌esponding to‌ thi‌s ‌ema‌il.

I know the standard response to ordinary spam, and the ordinary response to phishing. I reported this as phishing because it seemed a closest fit, and furthermore far more severe than "BETH ADD REAL INCHES TO YOUR PEN1S!".

How can I, or should I, respond to blackmail spam? Is any LE followup appropriate?

  • 2
    Your password leaked, someone got it, your email, and is scamming you. Don't worry. – ThoriumBR Oct 16 '18 at 13:45
  • I also flagged as duplicate. Granted, the answers in that duplicate don't give any suggestions other than "just flag and ignore it", but the reason is because there really isn't anything else to do. – Conor Mancone Oct 16 '18 at 14:59
  • I went what I believe is one step better than changing my password. I don't know which account they got that password for, so I cancelled (and requested reissue of) my credit card. – Christos Hayward Oct 17 '18 at 12:45
  • 3
    @JonathanHayward why would cancelling your credit card be a natural response to the email? – schroeder Oct 17 '18 at 13:05

The only important takeaway to this particular scam is: change the password.

This scam has been around since approximately July 2018 and so far there are have been no videos published (that are linked to this type of extortion) but a lot of money has changed hands. One source claimed that "So far, 30 victims have paid more than $50,000 in total". One thing that we do know, that the password that is sent is indeed real. The scammers probably did not get this by penetrating your machine, but by copying it from a database of leaked credentials that are found in shady forums.


Change your password. Don't reuse passwords. You can also check haveibeenpwned.com to see where and when your credentials were leaked.

  • 1
    Troy Hunt also tweeted about this today. – Tom K. Oct 16 '18 at 17:37

Law enforcement in various jurisdictions are catching up with these types of emails. I know some that encourage people to report these types of emails. They are straight-up blackmail and that often falls under different laws than phishing. Please check what your local law enforcement has in place in your area.

Secondly, because this is new, people are not equipped to know how to respond to this, so reporting to your local IT department can be important so they can block them and chase up with other employees who may have received the same email in your company.

I got a panicked email from a security admin a few months ago with the same type of email, and he was asking the same question you did. While I worked with the local LE, I asked the security admin if there were copies of the email in other people's inboxes. It turned out that 15 people received the email, only one reported it, and they were all freaking out. Some were trying to figure out how to pay the blackmailer (the amount, in this case, was much lower).

So, check with your local LE, and do make sure your IT department knows about it so they can help the poor souls who are freaking out.

Once this becomes more mainstream, our responses can become more standard.


If you think the email is targeted and accurate:

  1. I don't think it is possible to go through someone's system with visiting a website or a video, If you have downloaded and ran any file or if your browser is too old then it is possible that the hacker reached to your system and after that anything is possible.

  2. Is there any specific info related to you in the email? Email, password, Ip/location, Web Browser version, your OS your monitor model and ... is considered normal, But getting webcam and recording don't seems real and possible.

If you don't know what is this email talking about the possible action could be:

  1. If you think this is a spam email then Flagging and Reporting and Deleting will make his job harder next time. Because the sender will be blacklisted, His tools will get flagged and suspended and a lot more trouble. The impact is small but maybe it help other people on the spam attack.

  2. Analyzing email's header can expose some information about the sender, like ip, The tools he is using or ... . Which is a very technical thing. But with considering the sender uses temporary tools, These info's will not help.

  3. The hacker can see if you opened, Read and clicked and waited on the email, So better to not opening these email next time.

  4. You have the upper hand here, With any possible method you can change your email's password if you think it is at risk.

  5. Finally Ignorance is the best solution, I receive 10's of this every day. Mass spamming is a ordinary thing for a hacker when millions of emails are out there for free.

  • 2
    This is a new spam/extortion email going around, and there it definitely isn't telling the truth. – Conor Mancone Oct 16 '18 at 14:57
  • 1
    These criminals rent email sending capabilities, so your #1 and #2 are not useful. Blocking the sender is meaningless. Tracking opened emails is not common. Enabling 2FA on email and the system is meaningless if the email is a lie, and if not a lie, would not solve the blackmail issue. – schroeder Oct 16 '18 at 15:15
  • The answer tries to clear the situation, Just wanted to clarify. – 0_o Oct 16 '18 at 15:29

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