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Do not trust the "I have to share bad news with you" email scam

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is the I have to share bad news with you email scam?

Scammers behind 'sextortion' emails threaten recipients that they will send humiliating videos, photos, or other compromising content to friends, coworkers, family, social network contacts, etc., unless a ransom is paid (usually in Bitcoins).

Typically, scammers claim to have infected computers with malware that allowed them to access the webcam and obtain the compromising videos and photos. These emails can never be trusted and, for the most part, should be ignored. Neither images nor videos that scammers claim to have obtained and threaten to release actually exist.

I have to share bad news with you email scam email spam campaign

The scammers behind this particular sextortion email claim to have access to devices that recipients use to browse the internet and used it to track browsing activities.

They also claim to have installed a Trojan on all the devices that recipients use to log into their email accounts. They apparently used the Trojan to access the microphone, video camera (webcam) and keyboard, and downloaded various information, photos, web browsing history. They also hijacked messengers, social network and email accounts, stole chat histories and contacts list.

Like most sextortion emails, this one is used to trick recipients into believing that malware on their computers has captured embarrassing videos through the webcam, and the videos will be sent to people known to the recipients (e.g., friends, colleagues, relatives) unless they pay a ransom.

Scammers demand that recipients transfer US$950 (USD) equivalent in Bitcoins to the provided wallet address and claim that recipients have 48 hours to pay this ransom. Note that sextortion emails sometimes contain real passwords that recipients have used in the past (or are still using). These genuine passwords are included to make it seem like the rest of the email is also valid. Scammers obtain them from darknet (usually, from data breaches).

In any case, you should ignore these sextortion scams should.

Threat Summary:
Name "I have to share bad news with you" email scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Trojan on computers has captured humiliating videos of recipients through their webcams
Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Addresses 1L6XxPRuLJdr6JCqw8dwNUm1wFLisrGREL, 1LKWDMofCWVgDSUH3Qoui6LxJ2VSUtsDCE, 1xPr18gM8YKsaiUkGz9MgpjtwcBQcME2i, 16aqr3rXxCtxa8AK3ErftnBQLfzyyhjpXJ, 1Hjpu99iHc3oi55ZJKf6RHhKbwit8vEzTS, 1665CsfFELrfiiubFZtLsGHGuqbUz1wXcz, 1LjGz2WcECaNpK1ajWcpsPEQFSxrw5DxMM, 12kieSEdCV4ikxdXXXC23ZsDcNmmKrRmwA, 12djMjPKd6Bv2BaXUNVuAjnuusKA66qCkX, 19AXt8DjBCJEXaoqYf3hF7UieTjKpT5Gkm, 1EGirECU3eoSJvY1JUxoNfLHZkKdvJNRkx
Ransom Size US$950
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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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scammers often use email 'spoofing' to make their emails seem more believable. Email spoofing is a technique used to forge the sender's address. Usually, scammers employ this technique to trick recipients into believing that an email came from a legitimate company, a person they know, or from themselves. In the third case, scammers attempt to trick recipients into believing that they have access to their email accounts, when in fact they simply spoofed the email.

More examples of sextortion scams are "Within 96 Hours I'll Ruin Your Prestige Email Scam", "I Monitored Your Device On The Net For A Long Time Email Scam", and "I Know That You Visit 18+ Content Email Scam".

Note that emails can be used not only to trick recipients into making monetary transactions, but also into installing malware onto their computers.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Typically, cyber criminals behind malspam campaigns send emails with a file attached to them or a download link to the malicious file. Their main goal is to trick recipients into opening/executing the rogue file, which then installs malicious software.

Some examples of files that cyber criminals send via email are Microsoft Office and PDF documents, executables (.exe), JavaScript, and archives (ZIP, RAR).

Note that malicious documents that are opened with Microsoft Office 2010 or newer versions install malicious software only if users enable macros commands (enable editing/content). These versions include "Protected View" mode, which does not allow opened malicious documents to install malware automatically. Older versions do not include this feature and install malicious software without asking permission.

How to avoid installation of malware

To avoid infecting the system with malware spread through spam mail, you are strongly advised not to open suspicious or irrelevant emails, especially those with any attachments or links present in them. Use official and verified download channels.

Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by legitimate developers, since illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third party updaters commonly proliferate malicious software.

To ensure device integrity and user safety, it is paramount to have reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware software installed and kept updated. Furthermore, use these programs to run regular system scans and to remove detected/potential threats.

Do not trust irrelevant emails that contain attachments or website links, especially if received from unknown, suspicious addresses.

Fake update tools infect systems by installing malicious programs rather than updates/fixes for installed software, or by exploiting bugs/flaws of outdated software that is installed on the computer.

Further encryption of any unaffected files can be prevented by uninstalling the ransomware, however, already compromised files remain encrypted even after removal of the rogue software and can only be recovered from a backup.

If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Appearance of the email (GIF):

i have to share bad news with you email scam appearance

Text in the email:

Subject: Payment from your account.


Greetings!

I have to share bad news with you.
Approximately few months ago I have gained access to your devices, which you use for internet browsing.
After that, I have started tracking your internet activities.

Here is the sequence of events:
Some time ago I have purchased access to email accounts from hackers (nowadays, it is quite simple to purchase such thing online).
Obviously, I have easily managed to log in to your email account (****@****.com).

One week later, I have already installed Trojan virus to Operating Systems of all the devices that you use to access your email.
In fact, it was not really hard at all (since you were following the links from your inbox emails).
All ingenious is simple. =)

This software provides me with access to all the controllers of your devices (e.g., your microphone, video camera and keyboard).
I have downloaded all your information, data, photos, web browsing history to my servers.
I have access to all your messengers, social networks, emails, chat history and contacts list.
My virus continuously refreshes the signatures (it is driver-based), and hence remains invisible for antivirus software.

Likewise, I guess by now you understand why I have stayed undetected until this letter...

While gathering information about you, I have discovered that you are a big fan of adult websites.
You really love visiting porn websites and watching exciting videos, while enduring an enormous amount of pleasure.
Well, I have managed to record a number of your dirty scenes and montaged a few videos, which show the way you masturbate and reach orgasms.

If you have doubts, I can make a few clicks of my mouse and all your videos will be shared to your friends, colleagues and relatives.
I have also no issue at all to make them available for public access.
I guess, you really don't want that to happen, considering the specificity of the videos you like to watch, (you perfectly know what I mean) it will cause a true catastrophe for you.

Let's settle it this way:
You transfer $950 USD to me (in bitcoin equivalent according to the exchange rate at the moment of funds transfer), and once the transfer is received, I will delete all this dirty stuff right away.
After that we will forget about each other. I also promise to deactivate and delete all the harmful software from your devices. Trust me, I keep my word.

This is a fair deal and the price is quite low, considering that I have been checking out your profile and traffic for some time by now.
In case, if you don't know how to purchase and transfer the bitcoins - you can use any modern search engine.

Here is my bitcoin wallet: 1L6XxPRuLJdr6JCqw8dwNUm1wFLisrGREL, 1LKWDMofCWVgDSUH3Qoui6LxJ2VSUtsDCE, 1xPr18gM8YKsaiUkGz9MgpjtwcBQcME2i, 16aqr3rXxCtxa8AK3ErftnBQLfzyyhjpXJ, 1Hjpu99iHc3oi55ZJKf6RHhKbwit8vEzTS

You have less than 48 hours from the moment you opened this email (precisely 2 days).

Things you need to avoid from doing:
*Do not reply me (I have created this email inside your inbox and generated the return address).
*Do not try to contact police and other security services. In addition, forget about telling this to you friends. If I discover that (as you can see, it is really not so hard, considering that I control all your systems) - your video will be shared to public right away.
*Don't try to find me - it is absolutely pointless. All the cryptocurrency transactions are anonymous.
*Don't try to reinstall the OS on your devices or throw them away. It is pointless as well, since all the videos have already been saved at remote servers.

Things you don't need to worry about:
*That I won't be able to receive your funds transfer.
- Don't worry, I will see it right away, once you complete the transfer, since I continuously track all your activities (my trojan virus has got a remote-control feature, something like TeamViewer).
*That I will share your videos anyway after you complete the funds transfer.
- Trust me, I have no point to continue creating troubles in your life. If I really wanted that, I would do it long time ago!

Everything will be done in a fair manner!

One more thing... Don't get caught in similar kind of situations anymore in future!
My advice - keep changing all your passwords on a frequent basis

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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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task - usually it is best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs to do this automatically. To remove this malware we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here is an example of a suspicious program running on a user's computer:

malicious process running on user's computer sample

If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example, using task manager, and identified a program that looks suspicious, you should continue with these steps:

manual malware removal step 1Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:

screenshot of autoruns application

manual malware removal step 2Restart your computer into Safe Mode:

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu".

Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options".

In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

 

manual malware removal step 3Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.

extract autoruns.zip and run autoruns.exe

manual malware removal step 4In the Autoruns application, click "Options" at the top and uncheck "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure, click the "Refresh" icon.

Click 'Options' at the top and uncheck 'Hide Empty Locations' and 'Hide Windows Entries' options

manual malware removal step 5Check the list provided by the Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

You should write down its full path and name. Note that some malware hides process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage, it is very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate the suspicious program you wish to remove, right click your mouse over its name and choose "Delete".

locate the malware file you want to remove

After removing the malware through the Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware will not run automatically on the next system startup), you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the filename of the malware, be sure to remove it.

searching for malware file on your computer

Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills. If you do not have these skills, leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs.

These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it is best to prevent infection than try to remove malware later. To keep your computer safe, install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software.

To be sure your computer is free of malware infections, we recommend scanning it with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

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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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