Whenever we see this scam it stirs up some anger in deep, dark places. The scammer is preying on people that don't know technology well enough to know they're full of...hot air. It's scummy in the scummiest of ways. The general idea is they claim that they've hacked your phone, tablet, computer, router, whatever and they demand you pay them some money through Bitcoin or they'll release incriminating pictures. Rest assured, they don't have anything of the sort and you're safe. If you're not entirely certain, feel free to contact us and we can do an assessment of your cybersecurity.
The Scam E-Mail
There are no specific identifying traits for this type of e-mail. Unlike many others, it's not trying to spoof Amazon, your bank, Gmail, or something else. It's an attempt at blackmail by deception.
What It Does
There isn't any code or links to bad websites involved with this scam e-mail. The whole idea is to deceive you into thinking the scammer has, in fact, compromised your technology and has gathered incriminating pictures or video. Keeping the mark (you) off balance and afraid is a common method for the conman. It's a story that's just plausible enough to maybe happen and scary enough to make you take action. The scammer will often send these e-mails using your own name as the display name of the e-mail, even though it's not actually coming from your own e-mail account. The display name is what the e-mail client shows you as the contact name. If I e-mailed you it would show John Miller but it could be changed to say anything you want. The actual e-mail address is from a server that appears to be compromised or otherwise not in use anymore. The scammer likely downloaded a database from somewhere that included names and e-mail addresses then mass mailed everyone the scam. Like most scams, the chance of success if very low but the payoff is huge. They spend a couple hundred dollars setting this up and if even one person falls for it they come out spectacularly ahead.
As always, if in doubt, contact us and we'll be happy to check it out for you.