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‘Sextortion’ Email Written in Japanese Targets China’s Porn Watchers, Demanding Bitcoin Ransom

‘Sextortion’ emails written in Japanese has hit inboxes across China in recent months. The scammer claimed in the email that he stolen the victim’s email password and had footage of recipient watching pornography, and extorted $560 worth of bitcoin in ‘hush money’, Chinese blockchain media Yiben Blockchain reported on March 6.

During the Chinese New Year holiday, a man surnamed Ma, who works for a blockchain company, received a email written in Japanese out of the blue that says(a rough translation),

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“ Hello! I have a bad news for you. On June 28,2018, I hacked into your computer and gained access to your account… I was shocked to learn that you even visited adult websites. You are really a pervert.”

The scammer informed Ma that informed Ma that he had controlled Ma’s computer, got the web browser history and recorded videos of Ma while watching an adult website through the computer webcam, urging the victim to pay a ransom of $560 in bitcoin or risk exposure.

To look convincing, the extortionist provided the Ma with a known password which was presumably obtained from a previous data breach—-that was meant to offer “proof” of the hack attack.

The sextortion scam seems to be gaining ground in China as many netizens said on social media platforms such as Weibo that they had received a similar extortion email.

Another victim in China’s Henan province claimed he received an edited nude photo in the email. “Obviously, this is a retouched photo. My head is placed on top of a stranger’s body,” said the victim. He was asked to send $551 worth of bitcoin to an address within 50 hours, or his computer would be compromised and the nude photo would be sent to his contact list.

An investigation by Yiben Blockchain found those who are targeted by this kind of scam largely use popular email service websites in the country, including qq.com, 163.com and 126.com.

It is not clear how many users have fallen for the sextortion scam so far, but Yiben Blockchain reviewed the bitcoin address included in the blackmail email and found it has received o.77 BTC (approximately $3,028.) from 9 different bitcoin wallets. But considering that the scammer distributes emails at scale and offers different bitcoin address in emails, so he may amass more than 0.77 BTC.

In addition, some Chinese netizens  stated on Weibo they had received two emails with the same context— one in English and the other in Japanese. The email in Japanese does not seem to be written by Japanese people due to awkward sentences and phrases. Yet using an email written in Japanese to extort Chinese seems quite weird.

Everyone should take caution with this sextortion scam and never make the requested payment.

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