The Truth About the “Device Hacked” Email Extortion Tactics

The “YOUR DEVICE AND EMAIL HAS BEEN COMPROMISED” email scam is a deceptive phishing campaign that cybercriminals are unleashing on unsuspecting victims. This fraudulent email claims your system was hacked to trick you into paying ransom. Here’s what you need to know about recognizing and stopping this scam.

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Overview of the Scam

The “YOUR DEVICE AND EMAIL HAS BEEN COMPROMISED” phishing scam message starts off by claiming that bad news awaits the recipient – their device has supposedly been infected with dangerous malware allowing the criminals total access.

The fraudulent email goes on to assert remote access was achieved to personal files, online accounts, webcams and microphones. It states that video footage and private data have been extracted from the victim’s computer.

As supposed proof of its claims, the email says that it was sent directly from the recipient’s own hacked email account to demonstrate the scammer’s control. The criminals may even send the scam message multiple times to overcome skepticism.

Building on spying allegations, the email then makes threats that inappropriate videos were recorded of the recipient through their webcam. It describes illicit things the targets may have been viewing or doing on private webcams, alleging to have explicit video clips capturing everything.

The message threatens that these fictional embarrassing videos will be leaked publicly to all contacts if the demanded ransom is not promptly paid. Trying to provoke panic in the victim, it warns the videos may be spread virally across social networks, email lists and even darknet sites.

Cybercriminals demand payments of $500 to $2000+ in untraceable cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, insisting on receiving funds within extremely short timeframes ranging from 24 to 72 hours. Bitcoin wallet addresses are provided to transfer the money to.

Of course, this is all 100% fabricated phishing propaganda. The scammers never actually hacked anyone’s system, installed malware, accessed webcams or recorded any illicit videos whatsoever. There is zero truth behind any of their technobabble claims.

This is simply a deceitful extortion scam tactic being used to swindle and manipulate victims out of money through raw intimidation. The criminals blast out massive volumes of threatening emails to blanket recipients, hoping some small percentage will believe the warnings and comply with payment demands out of fear.

By preying on recipients’ anxieties and lack of technical knowledge, the phishing scam tries to exploit urgency and confusion to its advantage. But no actual hacking or danger exists. Here’s an example of what one of these fake malicious emails looks like:

Hello there! Unfortunately, there are some bad news for you. Some time ago your device was infected with my private trojan, R.A.T (Remote Administration Tool), if you want to find out more about it simply use Google. My trojan allowed me to access your files, accounts and your camera. Check the sender of this email, I have sent it from your email account. To make sure you read this email, you will receive it multiple times. You truly enjoy checking out porn websites and watching dirty videos, while having a lot of kinky fun. I RECORDED YOU (through your camera) SATISFYING YOURSELF! After that I removed my malware to not leave any traces. If you still doubt my serious intentions, it only takes couple mouse clicks to share the video of you with your friends, relatives, all email contacts, on social networks, the darknet and to publish all your files. All you need is $800 USD in Bitcoin (BTC) transfer to my account. After the transaction is successful, I will proceed to delete everything. Be sure, I keep my promises. You can easily buy Bitcoin (BTC) here: https://cex.io/buy-bitcoins https://nexo.com/buy-crypto/bitcoin-btc https://bitpay.com/buy-bitcoin/?crypto=BTC https://paybis.com/ https://invity.io/buy-crypto Or simply google other exchanger. After that send the Bitcoin (BTC) directly to my wallet, or install the free software: Atomicwallet, or: Exodus wallet, then receive and send to mine. My Bitcoin (BTC) address is: 16RrKqp6gvepFSBMTcoVzdJZ1NSbA7PjZA Yes, that’s how the address looks like, copy and paste my address, it’s (cAsE-sEnSEtiVE). You are given not more than 3 days after you have opened this email. As I got access to this email account, I will know if this email has already been read. Everything will be carried out based on fairness. An advice from me, regularly change all your passwords to your accounts and update your device with newest security patches.

How the “YOUR DEVICE AND EMAIL HAS BEEN COMPROMISED” Email Scam Works

The cybercriminals behind this scam utilize devious social engineering techniques to extort money from victims. Here is the step-by-step process:

1. Obtain Email Addresses

Scammers acquire enormous lists of potential targets through various deceitful means, including:

  • Buying stolen email lists on the black market dark web
  • Hacking into databases and websites to steal user account info
  • Using email harvesting tools to scrape addresses found online
  • Exploiting vulnerabilities in sites to access contact data
  • Getting email lists leaked from data breaches

Massive batches of emails allows them to launch wide-scale scam campaigns.

2. Spoof the Sender’s Email Address

The scammers disguise where the email truly originates from using technical spoofing tricks. They alter the message header so the “From” address shows one of the victim’s own email accounts rather than the scammer’s address.

Seeing your own email address as the sender makes the message appear more legitimate and supports claims that your account was hacked.

3. Craft a Threatening Extortion Email

The phishing email is carefully composed to scare and pressure recipients. The criminals pretend to have used malware to access devices and record inappropriate videos through the webcam.

The message threatens to publicly share the supposed explicit videos and private data unless the ransom is paid in Bitcoin within 3 days. The demanded amount typically ranges from $500 to $2000.

4. Provide Bitcoin Payment Instructions

The scammers insist on payment through Bitcoin due to its anonymity. The email includes a Bitcoin wallet address to submit the ransom funds to.

Bitcoin allows victims to easily pay the criminals while avoiding traceable bank transactions, enabling the crooks to conceal their identity.

5. Wait for Panicked Victims to Pay Up

After blasting out countless intimidating phishing emails, the scammers await payments to roll in from frightened recipients who believe the threats. Even a 1% response rate results in major ill-gotten gains.

They never actually possess or distribute any compromising victim videos, since the entire extortion premise is fabricated. Their sole aim is to trick victims out of money.

What to Do If You’re Targeted by This Scam

Here are important steps to take if you receive this “YOUR DEVICE AND EMAIL HAS BEEN COMPROMISED” phishing email demanding Bitcoin:

Don’t Pay the Ransom

No matter how frightening the email seems, do not pay the ransom under any circumstances. The scammers never truly hacked your system or recorded inappropriate videos of you. Paying them will only fund more criminal operations.

Report the Email as Phishing

Forward the scam email to your email provider’s abuse department so they can block the fraudulent account sending these emails. Reporting phishing scams disrupts their infrastructure.

Run Anti-Virus Software

It’s highly doubtful any malware is installed as claimed, but running an anti-virus scan removes any potential threats present. Make sure your security software is up-to-date.

Change Passwords and Enable 2FA

Reset the passwords for your email account and other important online accounts, making them long and strong. Turn on two-factor authentication for extra security against break-ins.

Watch for Suspicious Activity

Monitor financial statements closely for any unauthorized transactions. Keep an eye out for odd activity that could indicate an actual compromise, like unknown login attempts.

Ignore Follow-Up Extortion Emails

If the first scam email goes unpaid, the crooks may send more threats demanding Bitcoin. Continue to ignore these demands – do not engage with the scammers.

Is Your Device Infected? Check for Malware

If your device is running slowly or acting suspicious, it may be infected with malware. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free is a great option for scanning your device and detecting potential malware or viruses. The free version can efficiently check for and remove many common infections.  

Malwarebytes can run on Windows, Mac, and Android devices. Depending on which operating system is installed on the device you’re trying to run a Malwarebytes scan, please click on the tab below and follow the displayed steps.

Malwarebytes For WindowsMalwarebytes For MacMalwarebytes For Android

Scan your computer with Malwarebytes for Windows to remove malware

Malwarebytes is one of the most popular and most used anti-malware software for Windows, and for good reasons. It is able to destroy many types of malware that other software tends to miss, without costing you absolutely nothing. When it comes to cleaning up an infected device, Malwarebytes has always been free and we recommend it as an essential tool in the fight against malware.

  1. Download Malwarebytes for Windows.

    You can download Malwarebytes by clicking the link below.

    MALWAREBYTES FOR WINDOWS DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new page from where you can download Malwarebytes)
  2. Double-click on the Malwarebytes setup file.

    When Malwarebytes has finished downloading, double-click on the MBSetup file to install Malwarebytes on your computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.

    Download

    You may be presented with a User Account Control pop-up asking if you want to allow Malwarebytes to make changes to your device. If this happens, you should click “Yes” to continue with the Malwarebytes installation.

    Click Yes to install Malwarebytes

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to install Malwarebytes.

    When the Malwarebytes installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes setup wizard which will guide you through the installation process. The Malwarebytes installer will first ask you what type of computer are you installing this program on, click either Personal Computer or Work Computer.
    Malwarebytes setup: Click on Personal Computer

    On the next screen, click “Install” to install Malwarebytes on your computer.

    Click on Install to install Malwarebytes

    When your Malwarebytes installation completes, the program opens the Welcome to Malwarebytes screen.

  4. Click on “Scan”.

    Malwarebytes is now installed on your computer, to start a scan click on the “Scan” button. Malwarebytes will automatically update the antivirus database and start scanning your computer for malicious programs.

    Click on Scan button

  5. Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.

    Malwarebytes will now scan your computer for browser hijackers and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.

    Malwarebytes scanning for malware

  6. Click on “Quarantine”.

    When the Malwarebytes scan is finished scanning it will show a screen that displays any malware, adware, or potentially unwanted programs that it has detected. To remove the adware and other malicious programs that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine” button.

    Review the malicious programs and click on Quarantine to remove malware

  7. Restart computer.

    Malwarebytes will now remove all the malicious files and registry keys that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your computer.
    Malwarebytes requesting to restart computer to complete the malware removal process

Your computer should now be free of trojans, adware, browser hijackers, and other malware.

If your current antivirus allowed this malicious program on your computer, you may want to consider purchasing Malwarebytes Premium to protect against these types of threats in the future.
If you are still having problems with your computer after completing these instructions, then please follow one of the steps:

Scan your computer with Malwarebytes for Mac to remove malware

Malwarebytes for Mac is an on-demand scanner that can destroy many types of malware that other software tends to miss without costing you absolutely anything. When it comes to cleaning up an infected device, Malwarebytes has always been free, and we recommend it as an essential tool in the fight against malware.

  1. Download Malwarebytes for Mac.

    You can download Malwarebytes for Mac by clicking the link below.

    MALWAREBYTES FOR MAC DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new page from where you can download Malwarebytes for Mac)
  2. Double-click on the Malwarebytes setup file.

    When Malwarebytes has finished downloading, double-click on the setup file to install Malwarebytes on your computer. In most cases, downloaded files are saved to the Downloads folder.

    Double-click on setup file to install Malwarebytes

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to install Malwarebytes.

    When the Malwarebytes installation begins, you will see the Malwarebytes for Mac Installer which will guide you through the installation process. Click “Continue“, then keep following the prompts to continue with the installation process.

    Click Continue to install Malwarebytes for Mac

    Click again on Continue to install Malwarebytes for Mac for Mac

    Click Install to install Malwarebytes on Mac

    When your Malwarebytes installation completes, the program opens to the Welcome to Malwarebytes screen. Click the “Get started” button.

  4. Select “Personal Computer” or “Work Computer”.

    The Malwarebytes Welcome screen will first ask you what type of computer are you installing this program, click either Personal Computer or Work Computer.
    Select Personal Computer or Work Computer mac

  5. Click on “Scan”.

    To scan your computer with Malwarebytes, click on the “Scan” button. Malwarebytes for Mac will automatically update the antivirus database and start scanning your computer for malware.
    Click on Scan button to start a system scan Mac

  6. Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.

    Malwarebytes will scan your computer for adware, browser hijackers, and other malicious programs. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
    Wait for Malwarebytes for Mac to scan for malware

  7. Click on “Quarantine”.

    When the scan has been completed, you will be presented with a screen showing the malware infections that Malwarebytes has detected. To remove the malware that Malwarebytes has found, click on the “Quarantine” button.
    Review the malicious programs and click on Quarantine to remove malware

  8. Restart computer.

    Malwarebytes will now remove all the malicious files that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your computer.
    Malwarebytes For Mac requesting to restart computer

Your Mac should now be free of adware, browser hijackers, and other malware.

If your current antivirus allowed a malicious program on your computer, you might want to consider purchasing the full-featured version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to protect against these types of threats in the future.
If you are still experiencing problems while trying to remove a malicious program from your computer, please ask for help in our Mac Malware Removal Help & Support forum.

Scan your phone with Malwarebytes for Android to remove malware

Malwarebytes for Android automatically detects and removes dangerous threats like malware and ransomware so you don’t have to worry about your most-used device being compromised. Aggressive detection of adware and potentially unwanted programs keeps your Android phone or tablet running smooth.

  1. Download Malwarebytes for Android.

    You can download Malwarebytes for Android by clicking the link below.

    MALWAREBYTES FOR ANDROID DOWNLOAD LINK
    (The above link will open a new page from where you can download Malwarebytes for Android)
  2. Install Malwarebytes for Android on your phone.

    In the Google Play Store, tap “Install” to install Malwarebytes for Android on your device.

    Tap Install to install Malwarebytes for Android

    When the installation process has finished, tap “Open” to begin using Malwarebytes for Android. You can also open Malwarebytes by tapping on its icon in your phone menu or home screen.
    Malwarebytes for Android - Open App

  3. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the setup process

    When Malwarebytes will open, you will see the Malwarebytes Setup Wizard which will guide you through a series of permissions and other setup options.
    This is the first of two screens that explain the difference between the Premium and Free versions. Swipe this screen to continue.
    Malwarebytes Setup Screen 1
    Tap on “Got it” to proceed to the next step.
    Malwarebytes Setup Screen 2
    Malwarebytes for Android will now ask for a set of permissions that are required to scan your device and protect it from malware. Tap on “Give permission” to continue.
    Malwarebytes Setup Screen 3
    Tap on “Allow” to permit Malwarebytes to access the files on your phone.
    Malwarebytes Setup Screen 4

  4. Update database and run a scan with Malwarebytes for Android

    You will now be prompted to update the Malwarebytes database and run a full system scan.

    Malwarebytes fix issue

    Click on “Update database” to update the Malwarebytes for Android definitions to the latest version, then click on “Run full scan” to perform a system scan.

    Update database and run Malwarebytes scan on phone

  5. Wait for the Malwarebytes scan to complete.

    Malwarebytes will now start scanning your phone for adware and other malicious apps. This process can take a few minutes, so we suggest you do something else and periodically check on the status of the scan to see when it is finished.
    Malwarebytes scanning Android for Vmalware

  6. Click on “Remove Selected”.

    When the scan has been completed, you will be presented with a screen showing the malware infections that Malwarebytes for Android has detected. To remove the malicious apps that Malwarebytes has found, tap on the “Remove Selected” button.
    Remove malware from your phone

  7. Restart your phone.

    Malwarebytes for Android will now remove all the malicious apps that it has found. To complete the malware removal process, Malwarebytes may ask you to restart your device.


Your phone should now be free of adware, browser hijackers, and other malware.

If your current antivirus allowed a malicious app on your phone, you may want to consider purchasing the full-featured version of Malwarebytes to protect against these types of threats in the future.
If you are still having problems with your phone after completing these instructions, then please follow one of the steps:

Here is a detailed SEO-optimized FAQ covering the “YOUR DEVICE AND EMAIL HAS BEEN COMPROMISED” email scam:

Frequently Asked Questions About the “YOUR DEVICE AND EMAIL HAS BEEN COMPROMISED” Scam

This phishing scam raises many concerns. Here are comprehensive answers to key questions recipients have about the fraudulent device hacking email:

What exactly is the “YOUR DEVICE AND EMAIL HAS BEEN COMPROMISED” scam email?

This is a phishing campaign where scammers send messages pretending to have hacked into your device and accounts. The email threatens to publicly leak private videos and data unless a bitcoin ransom is paid. But it’s completely fabricated with no truth to their hacking claims.

How does the “COMPROMISED DEVICE” bitcoin extortion scam work exactly?

The email claims malware gave total access to your system including files, accounts, and webcam video. It threatens to share supposed explicit videos captured of you unless the bitcoin ransom is paid within 3 days. In reality, no such malicious hacking or recordings exist.

Are the hackers’ claims in the “COMPROMISED DEVICE” email real?

No, the scammers have not actually compromised your device, accessed your accounts and data, recorded inappropriate videos, or obtained any personal information as claimed. It’s all lies designed to trick victims into paying bitcoin.

Should I pay the bitcoin ransom demanded by the “COMPROMISED DEVICE” email?

No, never pay ransoms to unknown scammers, especially through anonymous cryptocurrency like bitcoin. The hacking threats are completely fabricated to manipulate you. Paying them will only enable these phishing scams to persist.

What if I already paid the bitcoin ransom requested by the “COMPROMISED DEVICE” email?

If you did already pay, contact your bank and the bitcoin exchange you used to see if the transaction can be stopped, reversed or refunded. You can also report it to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

How are scammers getting people’s email addresses?

These phishing scams harvest thousands of emails through buying stolen data online, hacking websites, exploiting vulnerabilities, phishing sites, using email scrapers, and other deceitful tactics. Email lists also get leaked from data breaches.

How can I recognize this “COMPROMISED DEVICE” phishing scam?

Look for poor grammar, anonymous bitcoin payment instructions, threats and short deadlines, claims of illegal recordings/hacking with no evidence, demands to pay for supposed damage repair, and other telltale signs of phishing.

What should I do if I receive the “COMPROMISED DEVICE” extortion email?

Do not pay any ransom. Report the email as phishing to your provider. Scan devices for malware and reset passwords just in case. Monitor financial statements for misuse and watch for other odd activity.

How can I avoid becoming a victim of this scam?

Using strong unique passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, keeping software updated, and being vigilant against phishing can help protect you. Anti-virus software and regular system back-ups are also beneficial precautions.

Who can I contact if I’m targeted by this “COMPROMISED DEVICE” scam?

You can report these phishing scams to the Anti-Phishing Working Group (info@apwg.org), Google Safe Browsing, PhishTank, and the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov).

The Bottom Line

The “YOUR DEVICE AND EMAIL HAS BEEN COMPROMISED” email scam preys on victims’ fears of embarrassing or explicit videos being leaked. In reality, the scammers never accessed your accounts – they simply hope to intimidate recipients into paying Bitcoin ransoms.

Recognize these messages as fraudulent extortion attempts. Avoid falling for demanding threats, report the phishing scams, and implement stronger security practices. Make others aware of cybercriminal deception tactics to help prevent these scams from claiming more victims.

How to Stay Safe Online

Here are 10 basic security tips to help you avoid malware and protect your device:

  1. Use a good antivirus and keep it up-to-date.

    Shield Guide

    It's essential to use a good quality antivirus and keep it up-to-date to stay ahead of the latest cyber threats. We are huge fans of Malwarebytes Premium and use it on all of our devices, including Windows and Mac computers as well as our mobile devices. Malwarebytes sits beside your traditional antivirus, filling in any gaps in its defenses, and providing extra protection against sneakier security threats.

  2. Keep software and operating systems up-to-date.

    updates-guide

    Keep your operating system and apps up to date. Whenever an update is released for your device, download and install it right away. These updates often include security fixes, vulnerability patches, and other necessary maintenance.

  3. Be careful when installing programs and apps.

    install guide

    Pay close attention to installation screens and license agreements when installing software. Custom or advanced installation options will often disclose any third-party software that is also being installed. Take great care in every stage of the process and make sure you know what it is you're agreeing to before you click "Next."

  4. Install an ad blocker.

    Ad Blocker

    Use a browser-based content blocker, like AdGuard. Content blockers help stop malicious ads, Trojans, phishing, and other undesirable content that an antivirus product alone may not stop.

  5. Be careful what you download.

    Trojan Horse

    A top goal of cybercriminals is to trick you into downloading malware—programs or apps that carry malware or try to steal information. This malware can be disguised as an app: anything from a popular game to something that checks traffic or the weather.

  6. Be alert for people trying to trick you.

    warning sign

    Whether it's your email, phone, messenger, or other applications, always be alert and on guard for someone trying to trick you into clicking on links or replying to messages. Remember that it's easy to spoof phone numbers, so a familiar name or number doesn't make messages more trustworthy.

  7. Back up your data.

    backup sign

    Back up your data frequently and check that your backup data can be restored. You can do this manually on an external HDD/USB stick, or automatically using backup software. This is also the best way to counter ransomware. Never connect the backup drive to a computer if you suspect that the computer is infected with malware.

  8. Choose strong passwords.

    lock sign

    Use strong and unique passwords for each of your accounts. Avoid using personal information or easily guessable words in your passwords. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts whenever possible.

  9. Be careful where you click.

    cursor sign

    Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources. These could potentially contain malware or phishing scams.

  10. Don't use pirated software.

    Shady Guide

    Avoid using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing programs, keygens, cracks, and other pirated software that can often compromise your data, privacy, or both.

To avoid potential dangers on the internet, it's important to follow these 10 basic safety rules. By doing so, you can protect yourself from many of the unpleasant surprises that can arise when using the web.

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