Don't fall for this 'sextortion' email scam

Go ahead, check your inbox. Does this email sound familiar: someone claims to know a lot about you, even the keystrokes you may not want anyone to discover?

The claims aren't real. This is a scam and scare tactic to get you to send money to the scammer, according to Claire Rosenzweig of the Better Business Bureau Metro New York. She called the email scam a form of blackmail.

The BBB is sounding the alarm on the new scam, which has some people quite scared. Since October, the BBB has received more than 200 Scam Tracker emails alerting them to this growing scam.

The author of the scam email we examined claims to know of your misadventures and your penchant for watching adult porn. The scam varies, but in general, the scammers claim to know your password, say they've obtained a list of your contacts, and recorded video of you watching porn.

The email is all an effort to get you to pay up. In this case—$2,950 in bitcoin or other forms of unrecoverable money. If you don't pay, they claim they will email everyone in your contacts the evidence of your porn-watching activities. You'll never see that money again.

So rule No. 1: don't pay up. Instead, cyber security expert Noah Birnbaum advises you to ignore the emails and delete them. But if you're worried that even opening the email may provide a gateway for hackers, Birnhaum said you'd need to download some sort of malware to give them access to your information.

Rosenzweig said these scammers don't have anything on you. Instead, they are using high-pressure tactics to get your money.

These hackers, who could be anywhere, are using information found on the dark web to attempt to fool you. Here are two simple ways to protect yourself:

  1. Cover your webcam on your computer
  2. Don't engage with these thieves

If you do get emails like this, file a report with the BBB Scam Tracker.