The (Possible) Rise Of E-Blackmail

from the no-backup? dept

A Reuters report making the rounds today talks about a supposedly popular online scam these days, where someone sends an email threatening to wipe out your hard drive or put child porn on it – but who promise to go away if you pay them a modest fee (usually $20 to $30). The article claims that many people are falling for it, but doesn’t give much evidence to back this up. They quote an anonymous “British detective” as their main source for this story. They also admit that reports of the extortion are “tailing off”, but say that’s only because most people won’t report such e-blackmail. While I’m sure that there are people trying this scam, and it’s likely that people do fall for it, I do wonder if it’s really as big a problem as the article suggests it is. Quoting an anonymous source and not a single “victim” makes it seem like maybe this isn’t such a big problem at all.

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Comments on “The (Possible) Rise Of E-Blackmail”

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aNonMooseCowherd says:

sounds bogus

On the face of it, this doesn’t sound very likely. The money has to be transferred to someone’s account, which should make it easy to find the account owner. Is the risk worth a paltry $20-30? The article does not quote (by name) a single police official. I wonder if Reuters got this from one of the tabloids and mistook it for real news.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: sounds bogus

Easy answer: fear, uncertainaty, doubt and the implicit expense of a lengthy legal battle.


Pop up a window with pseudo-child porn served from a country where it’s not illegal. Pop open another window simulating surfing to Scottland yard, highlighting the anonymous tip e-mail address for such things. and in yet another window, have a simulated SMTP session started slowly typing in the tip to the Scottland Yard tip e-mail address, including time, date, e-mail address / IP address of the offender, whois information, attachment of the offending content, etc.

…and at the bottom of this pop up window, have a “click on this paypal donation button to stop transmission of this tip” button, with a little blurb about how donations go to help continue the fight agains child porn and kitten killing.

I mean, after all… if Pete Townsend can get popped for doing “research”, anyone who likes rock and roll can get nicked.

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