What is the "I Hacked Your Device" email scam?
"I Hacked Your Device" is a scam (a spam email campaign) that cyber criminals and scammers use to trick people into paying to prevent distribution of compromising material (videos) that they have supposedly obtained.
They send this email to many people hoping that someone will fall for this scam. In fact, statements issued by the "I Hacked Your Device" spam campaign are false and should be disregarded.
"I Hacked Your Device" email scam overview
Scammers behind this email scam use the so-called "spoofing" method to falsify the sender's email address. In this case, they use the recipient's email address to make it seem as if this person is also the sender. They claim that they have hacked the recipient's computer and email account as stated in the "I Hacked Your Device" message.
According to these scammers, they planted a malicious program on an adult website that was visited by the recipient of the email, and that this resulted in installation of a remote access tool. Cyber criminals claim that this tool allowed them to access the affected computer's webcam and monitor (and record) all computing activities.
Furthermore, they claim that this remote access tool allowed them to steal the contact lists from social networks, email account, and a messenger. The main purpose of the "I Hacked Your Device" email is to convince recipients that cyber criminals used the installed tool to record a compromising (and humiliating) webcam video whilst the user watched a video on an adult website.
They make threats to share this webcam video with all of the recipient's contacts unless they receive $671, transferred to a Bitcoin wallet provided with 48 hours.
They also promise to delete this video as soon as their demands are met. Note that this is merely a scam and should not be trusted. We strongly recommend that you ignore this and other scams simply by deleting the received email.
|Name||I Hacked Your Device Email Scam|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Symptoms||Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of one's computer.|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.|
|Damage||Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
I Am A Spyware Software Developer, So I'm The Hacker Who Broke Your Email, and I'm A Programmer Who Cracked Your Email are just some examples of other, similar email scams. Most are used to extort money from people by tricking them into believing that compromising material (photos or videos) will be distributed unless a ransom is paid.
Other spam email campaigns do not attempt to extort money (at least not directly), but infect computers with viruses. Typically, cyber criminals send emails that contains malicious attachments designed to download and install viruses such as LokiBot, TrickBot, Emotet, AZORult, Adwind, and other high-risk computer infections.
These emails usually contain attachments such as PDF documents, executable files, archive files, Microsoft Office documents, etc. The main purpose is to trick recipients into opening a malicious attachment, which then installs a virus that might be designed to proliferate other infections (such as ransomware), steal logins, passwords, banking details, and so on.
Thus, having a computer infected with these viruses might cause serious problems relating to privacy, financial loss, browsing safety, and so on.
We receive a great deal of feedback from concerned users about this scam email. Here is the most popular question we receive:
Q: Hi pcrisk.com team, I received an email stating that my computer was hacked and they have a video of me. Now they are asking for a ransom in Bitcoins. I think this must be true because they listed my real name and password in the email. What should I do?
A: Do not worry about this email. Neither hackers nor cyber criminals have infiltrated/hacked your computer and there is no video of you watching pornography. Simply ignore the message and do not send any Bitcoins. Your email, name, and password was probably stolen from a compromised website such as Yahoo (these website breaches are common). If you are concerned, you can check if your accounts have been compromised by visiting the haveibeenpwned website.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
Spam email campaigns cannot do any damage without manual intervention by users who are encouraged to perform certain tasks. Unfortunately, due to the lack of knowledge of these threats and careless behaviour, many users inadvertently help scammers to achieve their goals.
As mentioned above, emails of this type contain malicious attachments that infect computers only if opened. For example, if the attached file is an executable (.exe) file, it first needs to be executed (run) for it to install malicious programs.
If the attachment is an MS Office document, when opened, it will request permission to enable macro commands. Enabling these commands gives permission for a malicious document to download and install a high-risk virus. Similar rules apply to files of other types.
How to avoid installation of malware?
Do not open attachments (or links) that are included in emails received from unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy addresses, without carefully studying them first. If the email seems irrelevant (does not concern you), do not open the presented attachment or link - you should delete these emails without reading. Download software using official, trustworthy sources (websites) only.
Avoid using third party downloaders, peer-to-peer networks and other such tools, unofficial websites, etc. Bear in mind that third party downloaders (or installers) are used to distribute rogue (potentially malicious) applications. Download and install software with care. Check "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings.
Deselect offers to install or download unwanted applications, and only then finish the process. You are advised to keep software updated but using implemented functions or tools provided by the official developers. Dubious, fake updaters usually install malware or unwanted applications rather than the promised updates.
If you are a Microsoft Office user, use software no older than the MS Office 2010 version. Later versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents malicious attachments from downloading and installing computer infections.
If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Text presented in the "I Hacked Your Device" email message:
Subject: Your account is being used by another person!
I hacked your device, because I sent you this message from your account.
If you have already changed your password, my malware will be intercepts it every time.
You may not know me, and you are most likely wondering why you are receiving this email, right?
In fact, I posted a malicious program on adults (pornography) of some websites, and you know that you visited these websites to enjoy
(you know what I mean).
While you were watching video clips,
my trojan started working as a RDP (remote desktop) with a keylogger that gave me access to your screen as well as a webcam.
Immediately after this, my program gathered all your contacts from messenger, social networks, and also by e-mail.
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.
What should you do?
Well, I think $671 (USD dollars) is a fair price for our little secret.
You will make a bitcoin payment (if you don't know, look for "how to buy bitcoins" on Google).
BTC Address: 1GjZSJnpU4AfTS8vmre6rx7eQgeMUq8VYr, 16xg78KbZSR2TrcY3hR7ViMtJecyyZEoQJ, 13Xp4WMQ4JvNzYfHTzxr6yny1kiQSMRNkn, 13Xp4WMQ4JvNzYfHTzxr6yny1kiQSMRNkn, 18pKQ88ZpatLYmyeKpuCFwvRFcjHjwVB2u, 1ELgYTbMLmw9vaHADfZmMcKVMWCNmRH8S2, 14DvFghvkzQujf5Kd5AL2VKjxaYm5KidxR, 1GXTMHxTwfoErs1Y8jUTvFFHocugAJVUZz
(This is CASE sensitive, please copy and paste it)
You have 2 days (48 hours) to pay. (I have a special code, and at the moment I know that you have read this email).
If I don't get bitcoins, I will send your video to all your contacts, including family members, colleagues, etc.
However, if I am paid, I will immediately destroy the video, and my trojan will be destruct someself.
If you want to get proof, answer "Yes!" and resend this letter to youself.
And I will definitely send your video to your any 19 contacts.
This is a non-negotiable offer, so please do not waste my personal and other people's time by replying to this email.
Screenshot of an updated variant of this email scam:
Text presented in this variant:
Subject: Your account is being used by another person!
I'll begin with the most important.
I hacked your device and then got access to all your accounts... Including [victim's email address]
It is easy to check - I wrote you this email from your account.
Moreover, I know your intim secret, and I have proof of this.
You do not know me personally, and no one paid me to check you.
It is just a coincidence that I discovered your mistake.
In fact, I posted a malicious code (exploit) to an adult site, and you visited this site...
While watching a video Trojan virus has been installed on your device through an exploit.
This darknet software working as RDP (remote-controlled desktop), which has a keylogger,
which gave me access to your microphone and webcam.
Soon after, my software received all your contacts from your messenger, social network and email.
At that moment I spent much more time than I should have.
I studied your love life and created a good video series.
The first part shows the video that you watched,
and the second part shows the video clip taken from your webcam (you are doing inappropriate things).
Honestly, I want to forget all the information about you and allow you to continue your daily life.
And I will give you two suitable options. Both are easy to do.
First option: you ignore this email.
The second option: you pay me $750(USD).
Let's look at 2 options in detail.
The first option is to ignore this email.
Let me tell you what happens if you choose this path.
I will send your video to your contacts, including family members, colleagues, etc.
This does not protect you from the humiliation that you and
your family need to know when friends and family members know about your unpleasant details.
The second option is to pay me. We will call this "privacy advice."
Now let me tell you what happens if you choose this path.
Your secret is your secret. I immediately destroy the video.
You continue your life as if none of this has happened.
Now you might think: "I'll call to police!"
Undoubtedly, I have taken steps to ensure that this letter cannot be traced to me,
and it will not remain aloof from the evidence of the destruction of your daily life.
I don't want to steal all your savings.
I just want to get compensation for my efforts that I put in to investigate you.
Let us hope that you decide to create all this in full and pay me a fee for confidentiality.
You make a Bitcoin payment (if you don't know how to do it, just enter "how to buy bitcoins" in Google search)
Shipping amount: $750(USD).
Getting Bitcoin Addresses: 1GF8J1XRaiX2oHM7SQo9VAFAtWZcRgMncg, 18pKQ88ZpatLYmyeKpuCFwvRFcjHjwVB2u, 14t1ovSs6XGBCi6BwZAQ4kPCJ3dnUapQTv
(This is sensitive, so copy and paste it carefully)
Don't tell anyone what to use bitcoins for. The procedure for obtaining bitcoins can take several days, so do not wait.
I have a spetial code in Trojan, and now I know that you have read this letter.
You have 48 hours to pay.
If I don't get BitCoins, I'll send your video to your contacts, including close relatives, co-workers, and so on.
Start looking for the best excuse for friends and family before they all know.
But if I get paid, I immediately delete the video.
This is a one-time offer that is non-negotiable, so do not waste my and your time.
Time is running out.
Yet another variant of this email scam:
Text presented in this variant:
Subject: System Message: System Compromised!
Hi There, Your device was hacked by us and we posses FULL access to it. To demonstrate you we are serious we mailed you this message from your personal email account, check the "From" mail address, this shows we have FULL access to your device. We furthermore know one of the passwords you used was "-".
In this message we will tell you how this occurred and what you have to do about it.
We are team of hackers and a while ago we hacked into an xxx (porn) website that you checked out. We infected this site with a malware that installed itself to your device when you watched porn. Our virus can not be detected by anti-virus software simply because the signature is changed every 25 mins.
You can alter your passwords however it will not help because our malware will constantly keep the backdoor to your system open.
Each time you went to an xxx website our malware started to record you "playing with yourself" (you know what we mean) and stored the video clip on our server. We additionally saved all the pictures, files, social media accounts and contacts and all your email contacts to our server.
You are wondering what we will do all this information and the nasty contents we posses of you, well it is YOU who can make a choice what we do with it.
When you opened this message our server activated a timer. From now on you have 8 (yes, just 8!) hours to decide what we do with all the content we have of you.
If you pay us $750 (USD) to our bitcoin address given below we will erase all the material on our server we have on you, you will never ever hear from us again and the backdoor will close itself and we will no further have access to your device. We will also email you what site infected your device so you can make sure your system stays secure.
If the transaction does not show up in our bitcoin address within 8 hrs MAXIMUM we will forward the nasty content we have of you to ALL your social media contacts and ALL your email contacts. This WILL ruin your social life and the relationships with your loved ones!
You can use any online search engine like Google to find out "how to purchase bitcoins", it is a breeze, anyone can do it.
This is the bitcoin address: (copy/paste it, it is case sensitive):
Remember, you have just 8 hours in order to ensure the transaction arrives in our bitcoin address so you better initiate the transaction right away if you don't want your social life and the relationship with your loved ones destroyed!
Another variant of "I Hacked Your Device" spam email (cyber criminals use letter look-alike characters to bypass spam filters):
Text presented within:
Subject: Your device is temporarily locked.
I am a professional coder and I hacked your device's OS when you visit̪ed adult̪ websit̪e.
I've been wat̪ching your act̪ivit̪y for a couple of mont̪hs.
If you don't̪ underst̪and what̪ I am t̪alking about̪ I can explain...
My t̪rojan malware let̪s me get̪ access t̪o my vict̪im's syst̪em.
It̪ is mult̪iplat̪form soft̪ware wit̪h hVNC t̪hat̪ can be inst̪alled on phones, PC and even t̪V OS...
It̪ doesn't̪ have any AV's det̪ect̪s because it̪ is encrypt̪ed and can't̪ be det̪ect̪ed becaause I updat̪e it̪'s signat̪ures every 4 hour.
I can t̪urn on your camera, save your logs and do everyt̪hing t̪hat̪ I want̪ and you won't̪ not̪ice anyt̪hing.
Now I have all your cont̪act̪s, sm dat̪a and all logs from chat̪s for t̪he lat̪est̪ 2 mont̪hs but̪ it̪ is not̪ very useful wit̪hout̪ somet̪hing t̪hat̪ can spoil your reput̪at̪ion...
I recorded your mast̪urbat̪ion and t̪he video t̪hat̪ you wat̪ched. It̪ was disgust̪ing.
I can dest̪roy your life by sending t̪his st̪uff t̪o everybody you know.
If you want̪ me t̪o delet̪e t̪his st̪uff and avoid any problems you have t̪o send $1225 t̪o my bit̪coin address: 133gp7wGpKFaB2C593B2MCk2G4abYnEj9j, 133gp7wGpKFaB2C593B2MCk2G4abYnEj9j
If you don't̪ know how t̪o buy bit̪coins use Google, t̪here are a lot̪ of manuals about̪ using, spending and buying t̪his crypt̪ocurrency.
You have 50 hours from now t̪o complet̪e t̪he payment̪. I have a not̪ificat̪ion t̪hat̪ you are reading t̪his message...
t̪IME HAS GONE. Don't̪ t̪ry t̪o respond because t̪his email address is generat̪ed.
Don't̪ t̪ry t̪o complain because t̪his and my bit̪coin address can't̪ be t̪racked down.
If I not̪ice t̪hat̪ you shared t̪his message everybody will receive your dat̪a.
Instant automatic malware removal:
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- What is I Hacked Your Device spam?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious emails:
Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.
Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.
After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.
Emails with Malicious Attachments
Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.
In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.
If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.
While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.
This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.
To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.
How to spot a malicious email?
While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:
- Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
- Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
- Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
- Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.
To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
Example of a spam email:
What to do if you fell for an email scam?
- If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
- If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
- If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
- If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
- Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why did I receive this email?
Spam emails are not personal. Cyber criminals distribute these letters by the thousand with the hopes that at least some of the recipients will fall for their scams.
Was my computer actually hacked and does the sender have any information?
No, all of the claims made by "I Hacked Your Device" are false. This means that neither was your device hacked, nor does the sender have any compromising footage featuring you. Therefore, this email poses no actual threat - it is merely a scam.
How did cyber criminals get my email password?
Cyber criminals might have gained access to your email after a data breach. For example, information stolen from a website you've registered could contain log-in credentials. The more likely scenario is that you had fallen victim to a phishing scam at some point. To elaborate, phishing websites/files may be disguised as email account sign-in pages, various account creation webpages, service registration forms, and so on.
I have sent cryptocurrency to the address presented in this email, can I get my money back?
Cryptocurrency transactions are practically untraceable, which makes them irreversible. That means that you will not be able to retrieve the funds transferred to the cyber criminals.
I have provided my personal information when tricked by a spam email, what should I do?
If you have provided log-in credentials - immediately change the passwords of all possibly compromised accounts and inform their official support. And if you have disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.) - contact the corresponding authorities without delay.
I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?
No, merely opening a spam email will not trigger any system infection processes. Malware download/installation is initiated when the attached files or links contained in these letters - are opened/clicked.
I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?
If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) - most likely, yes. However, you might have avoided triggering an infection process if it was a document (e.g., .xls, .doc, .pdf, etc.). These formats may require additional interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands) to begin downloading/installing malware.
Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?
Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate most of the known malware infections. It is noteworthy that high-end malware usually hides deep within systems. Therefore, running a complete system scan is essential.