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How to avoid the Sextortion Email (Monero) scam

Also Known As: Sextortion Email (Monero) spam
Damage level: Medium

What is "Sextortion Email (Monero)" scam?

"Sextortion Email (Monero)" is the name of a scam sent to trick people into paying criminals. Scammers seek to trick recipients into believing that they have recorded a humiliating video, which they will proliferate on the internet unless a specific sum of Monero cryptocurrency is paid.

There are many similar scams online, none of which should be trusted. If you receive these fraudulent emails, simply ignore and delete them.

Sextortion Email (Monero) spam campaign

The scammer behind this email claims that the recipient's computer is infected with a remote administration tool (RAT), which allowed access and control of the computer. The scammer was apparently able to access the desktop, camera, and microphone, which were used to record a video whilst the recipient was apparently watching an adult video.

A threat is made to send the video to all of the recipient's contacts, post it on social networks, and publish it on the entire web, including the dark web. To prevent this, recipients are asked to pay $1000 in the Monero cryptocurrency. This must be done within two days and using the Monero (XMR) address provided.

Do not fall for this scam, since all claims are false. The best option is to simply ignore this email, and do not trust any similar emails in future.

We receive a great deal of feedback from concerned users about this type of email scam. Here is the most popular question we receive (in this case, relating to a scam that claims to have obtained compromising videos or photos of the user):

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.

Threat Summary:
Name "Sextortion Email (Monero)" scam.
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim The scammer claims that the computer has been infected with a Remote Access Tool (RAT), which allowed recording of a humiliating video. A threat is made to share the video with other people unless payment is made within two days.
Ransom Size $1000 in Monero cryptocurrency.
Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address (Monero) 4BrL51JCc9NGQ71kWhnY oDRffsDZy7m1HUU7MRU4nUMXAHNFBEJhk TZV9HdaL4gfuNBxLPc3BeMkLG aPbF5vWtANQmhvbmBTJbpSXqZx82
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the 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)

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There are many examples of other emails of this kind, including "Your device was infected with my private malware", "ChaosCC hacker group", and "The last time you visited a Porn website". Generally, scammers send them to trick people into paying to prevent distribution of humiliating photos or videos that do not exist.

Unfortunately, emails/spam campaigns are also used to proliferate malicious software. Cyber criminals send many emails with files attached. If opened, the files install malware. Examples of high-risk malware distributed through emails (and other channels) include TrickBot, Hancitor, Emotet, and FormBook.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Malicious attachments are harmless unless they are opened. Therefore, computers are generally safe as long as recipients do not open files attached to emails sent by cyber criminals. Typically, they attach Microsoft Office or PDF documents, archives such as ZIP, RAR, executable files such as .exe, JavaScript files, and so on.

If an attached file is a Microsoft Office document, when opened, it asks for permission to enable editing (macros commands). If permission is granted, malicious files infect the computer with high-risk malware. Remember, attached files can cause damage only when they are opened.

How to avoid installation of malware

Do not open files attached to irrelevant emails that are sent from unknown addresses. Check that it is safe to open files attached to emails.

Download all files and programs from official websites, and do not trust other sources such as Peer-to-Peer networks, unofficial pages, third party downloaders, and so on. Installed programs should be updated through tools or functions designed by official developers.

Activate licensed/paid installed software properly - do not use unofficial, third party tools that supposedly bypass paid activation, since this is illegal. Use Microsoft Office 2010 or later, since older versions do not include "Protected View" mode, which prevents malicious documents from installing malware.

Systems should be scanned for viruses regularly using reputable anti-spyware or anti-virus tools. 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 "Sextortion Email (Monero)" email message:

Subject: You better pay - ********

 

Hey, I know your password is: - ********

Your computer was infected with my malware, RAT (Remote Administration Tool), your browser wasn't updated / patched, in such case it's enough to just visit some website where my iframe is placed to get automatically infected, if you want to find out more - Google: "Drive-by exploit".

My malware gave me full access and control over your computer, meaning, I got access to all your accounts (see password above) and I can see everything on your screen, turn on your camera or microphone and you won't even notice about it.

I collected all your private data and I RECORDED YOU (through your webcam) SATISFYING YOURSELF!

After that I removed my malware to not leave any traces.

I can send the video to all your contacts, post it on social network, publish it on the whole web, including the darknet, where the sick people are, I can publish all I found on your computer everywhere!

Only you can prevent me from doing this and only I can help you out in this situation.

Transfer exactly 1000$ with the cryptocurrency Monero (XMR) to my Monero (XMR) address.

You can easily buy Monero (XMR) here: www.anycoindirect.eu/en/buy-monero, www.bitnovo.com/buy-monero-online-en, www.localmonero.co, or Google for other exchanger.
You can send the Monero (XMR) directly to my address, or download and create your own wallet first from here: www.mymonero.com, or simply create your online wallet here: www.cryptonator.com, www.freewallet.org, then receive and send to mine.

It's a very good offer, compared to all that horrible **** that will happen if I publish everything!

My is: 4BrL51JCc9NGQ71kWhnY oDRffsDZy7m1HUU7MRU4nUMXAHNFBEJhk TZV9HdaL4gfuNBxLPc3BeMkLG aPbF5vWtANQmhvbmBTJbpSXqZx82

Copy and paste my address, it's (cAsE-sEnSEtiVE), yes that's how the address looks like and you don't need to include payment-id or memo.

I give you 2 days to transfer the Monero (XMR).

As I got access to this email account, I will know if this email has already been read.
If you get this email multiple times, it's to make sure you read it, my mailer script has been configured like that and after payment you can ignore it.
After receiving the payment, I will remove everything and you can life your live in peace like before.

Next time update your browser before browsing the web!

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing 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.

Email-virus icon 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.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

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:

Example of an email spam

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.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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