What is sextortion, sextortion email scams, and how to get help

sextortion

In 2018 sextortion email scams became very popular and they don’t seem to be going away any time soon. But, what is sextortion, what is a sextortion scam, and how do I get help if I fell victim to a sextortion scam?

What is sextortion?

Sextortion refers to the broad category of sexual exploitation that does not utilize physical forms of coercion to extort sexual favors or money from a victim. Sextortion can define a form of blackmail in which sexually explicit videos, images, and information are used to extort sexual favors or money from the victim. It can also define corruption and abuses of power which includes people abusing their power to obtain sexual favors. For example, a government official who request sexual favors to obtain licenses or permits or employers who make providing sexual favors a condition of obtaining a job.

What is a sextortion email scam?

A sextortion email scam is a scam in which a scammer sends a fraudulent email message to a victim with the intent to trick them into sending money. In the message, the scammer usually claims to have recorded the victim performing sexual acts on themselves while watching videos on adult websites. The message may say that the recording will be sent to the victim’s contacts including friends, family members, and colleagues if a payment is not made within a certain amount of time. The scammer usually asks for the payment to be made using Bitcoins.

What I’ve done?
I made a double screen video.
The first part shows the video you watched (you have good taste, yes … but strange for me and other normal people),
and the second part shows the recording of your webcam.

Victims of sextortion email scams are typically those whose information has been leaked online following a breach of a third-party website or services like Adobe or Yahoo. Scammers use leaked information such as an email address, password, or phone number to scare victims into making a payment.

In many sextortion scams, the scammer will employ the use of an email spoofing service to make it appear as if they sent an email to the victim from their own account.

Here’s an example:

From: [Your email address]
To: [Your password]

Hi, stranger!

I know the [Your password], this is your password, and I sent you this message from your account.
If you have already changed your password, my malware will be intercepts it every time.

Source: ‘The decision to suspend your account. Waiting for payment’ email scam

Sextortion email scams do not pose much of a threat since they are only scams. There are no videos of the victim, the victim’s email account was not accessed by a scammer, and malware is not on the victim’s computer or mobile device. However, receiving a sextortion email message is a sign that your information was leaked somewhere online and you should take immediate action to ensure the security of your online accounts.

The term sextortion has been in use since the 1950s but only recently have sextortion email scams come to life. Here at Botcrawl.com we discovered sextortion email scams and have been tracking them and picking them apart ever since. Our goal is to help victims of sextortion scams and raise awareness.

Getting help

Sextortion is a very serious topic and if you are a victim of serious offenses or feel like you are being threatened it is recommended to get help immediately. Contact a family member, a friend you trust, the police, or the FBI (1-800-CALL-FBI) depending on the threat to figure out an appropriate course of action to take. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it, you are not alone.

Here are some things you can do to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Never send compromising images of yourself to anyone, no matter who they are. If you are being threatened for compromising images, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it or contact the police.
  • Do not open email attachments or attachments in messaging apps from people you are not familiar with.
  • Do not click links in email messages or links sent to you in messaging apps from people you are not familiar with.
  • Turn off your computer and other devices when you are not using them.
  • Cover your web camera or turn your web camera off if you are not using it.

Sextortion email scams are much lower on the severity level; However, falling victim to a sextortion scam can still have very serious consequences.

If you paid an email scammer using a credit card or online payment source, contact the correct payment institution to dispute the transaction. Let them know what happened so you can ensure your safety and that the threat is neutralized. Don’t give up if you don’t get the answer you approve, you deserve to get your money back.

If you are receiving messages from scammers that contain sensitive information such as your name, email account password, or telephone number it is likely that your information was leaked online following a breach that occurred on websites like Adobe, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Yahoo. Change the password to your email account and all other places that you reused the same password online to make sure no one else besides the intended party has access to it.

Follow these tips to create a secure password and protect your online accounts:

  • Do not reuse the same password for multiple accounts. Use unique passwords wherever possible.
  • Use strong passwords with numbers, letters, and special characters such as !@$#.
  • Use multi-factor authentication (such as 2FA) to add an extra layer of security along with your password.
  • Use a reputable password manager if you have trouble remembering multiple passwords.

Sean Doyle

Sean Doyle is a tech author and engineer with over 20 years of experience in cybersecurity, privacy, malware, Google Analytics, online marketing, and other topics. Sean's content has been featured in numerous publications.