I’ve received dozens of emails like the following, where some ‘anonymous hacker’ writes to me and tells me that I have been caught masturbating and that if I don’t send them bitcoin really soon, they’re going to send a video of me masturbating to everyone in my contact list and completely ruin my life. Given how common this is, the chances are pretty good that you have received a similar message as well, or that you will someday soon.
This email is from this past January – and while I did remove some of the parts about how to pay this guy, with what remains, you can clearly see that I’m well beyond the 72 hours that I was promised, and this ‘Brant’ did not even do me the service of sending people my masturbation video like he said he would. How rude. I’m pretty sure that most of them would have liked to see it…
LAST WARNING firstname.lastname@example.org! You have the last chance to save your social life - I am not kidding!! I give you the last 72 hours to make the payment before I send the video with your masturbation to all your friends and associates. The last time you visited a erotic website with young Teens, you downloaded and installed the software I developed. My program has turned on your camera and recorded your act of Masturbation and the video you were masturbating to. My software also downloaded all your email contact lists and a list of your Facebook friends. I have both the 'Lordrant.mp4' with your masturbation and a file with all your contacts on my hard drive. You are very perverted! If you want me to delete both files and keep your secret, you must send me Bitcoin payment. I give you the last 72 hours. If you don't know how to send Bitcoins, visit Google. When you pay in full, I will remove both files and deactivate my software. If you don't send the payment, I will send your masturbation video to ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES from your contact list I hacked. You саn visit the police but nobody will help you. I know what I am doing. I don't live in your country and I know how to stay anonymous. Don't try to deceive me - I will know it immediately - my spy ware is recording all the websites you visit and all keys you press. If you do - I will send this ugly recording to everyone you know, including your family. Don't cheat me! Don't forget the shame and if you ignore this message your life will be ruined. I am waiting for your Bitcoin payment. Brant Anonymous Hacker P.S. If you need more time to buy and send 0.587043 BTC, open your notepad and write '48h plz'. I will consider giving you another 48 hours before I release the vid, but only when I really see you are struggling to buy bitcoin.
I would really love to just eviscerate this message, because there are so many things here that simply make no sense – like, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t have an active facebook presence, so threatening to use my facebook contacts is a pointless threat, and there are numerous other reasons why this is ridiculous, but I don’t really have time for that…
I will admit though, I do kind of like the whole “type ’48 hr plz’ into notepad” thing – that implies scrutiny is continuing, which ups the fear level a bit.
It is admittedly pretty scary, if this is something that you would pay attention to or be scared by. And with shows on TV like Black Mirror and all of the other various techno-dystopian views being presented to us all of the time, along with real threats like identity theft, this can be a very disconcerting thing. However – I can authoritatively say that I’ve received many, many messages like the above and never once has anyone ever been shown a video of me masturbating – even if they really wanted to see it.
This is not to say that things like this are impossible – it’s certainly within the realm of possibility, which is probably why it is an effective scam, but that’s really all that it is, a scam – it’s not true extortion and you’re better off keeping your money or your bitcoin to yourself and just deleting the message from your inbox.