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This article was published on October 9, 2019

Sextortion scammers pivot from Bitcoin to Litecoin for better blackmailing

... and they're likely to switch to another cryptocurrency (eventually)

Sextortion scammers pivot from Bitcoin to Litecoin for better blackmailing

Sextortion phishers are pivoting away from Bitcoin to alternative cryptocurrencies to avoid being caught by email filters, ZDNet reports.

In particular, some sextortionists now rely on Litecoin, as major email providers automatically flag suspicious emails that feature Bitcoin wallet addresses.

“As this latest twist shows, threat actors can switch to the next crypto currency [sic] and attempt to iterate through all the scam’s previous versions,” said phishing analysts Cofense.

Litecoin is just sextortion flavor of the month

Sextortion phishing scams have plagued inboxes for well over a year. They typically claim malware has infected recipient’s machines to record webcams and naughty browsing habits, demanding Bitcoin in exchange for not leaking that data to the world.

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To add authenticity, the emails often include sensitive information, such as email passwords, believed to have been sourced from any number of major online data leaks.

OG Bitcoin sextortion scam email sample courtesy of Emin Gün Sirer.

As for why the scammers have switched to Litecoin over any one of the thousands of cryptocurrencies that aren’t Bitcoin, Cofense explained that not all are easily accessible from popular exchanges.

So, for the scam to work, potential victims need to be able to acquire the demanded cryptocurrency — Litecoin fits that description.

Recent iterations of the sextortion scam have evolved in other ways. Some have reportedly removed text and images altogether, instead opting for PDF documents, which in some cases are encrypted.

Current versions of the scam are also said to be written using very few searchable word patterns, again, to avoid detection.

It’s all fun and games until the real malware showed up

Earlier this year, Hard Fork reported that an 84-year-old bagel-loving lady foiled a $1,400 sextortionist plot by simply ignoring the emails “They told me I have very good taste in porn so I thought that was nice,” she said at the time.

More concerning, however, is that just one month later, ESET researchers discovered a nasty strain of malware that’s reportedly capable of detecting pornography on-screen and automatically recording webcam footage when its found.

That particular malware is distributed through dodgy email attachments, so defending against it is as easy as avoiding suspicious emails altogether.

And still, the best defence against sextortion emails is to simply not reply.

Want more Hard Fork? Join us in Amsterdam on October 15-17 to discuss blockchain and cryptocurrency with leading experts.

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