ESET Records a New Wave of Scam Emails

ESET warns users of a new wave of fraudulent e-mail messages seeking to extort money: the cyber criminal in the e-mail states that he has violated the intended victim’s device by filming the person while watching pornographic content. The e-mail also states that the video not only filmed the user’s behavior in front of the webcam, but also which videos were played, asking for ransom.

The victim is obliged to pay within 48 hours of opening the email or the cyber criminal will send the incriminating video to all the contacts he managed to steal from the infected device. In previous waves of spam detected by ESET, these sextortion e-mails were mostly in English while in recent days new localizations have emerged focused on Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Czech Republic, Russia.

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E-mails with the text in Italian have also been identified – about a thousand a month in the last quarter – in which a € 530 redemption is requested.  Similar scams by e-mail are not new but what distinguishes yet another wave of sextortion is the effectiveness of the social engineering involved, above all thanks to the psychological leverage exercised on users who secretly watch pornographic content on their devices.

ESET experts reiterate that these are scam emails and recall some rules to follow in these cases:

  • Act calmly and avoid hasty steps: don’t respond to scam emails, don’t download attachments, don’t click on lines containing embedded links to the message and certainly don’t send money.
  • If a cybercriminal lists the user’s actual password – which could appear in a database of compromised accounts like the much-discussed Collection # 1 – it is advisable to change it and activate two-factor authentication on that service.
  • Scan the device with reliable security software that can detect real infections and other problems, such as improper use of the webcam built into the device.
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