One of the most common Bitcoin email scams is sextortion, which can come in multiple forms. The premise of this scam is that the scammers claim to have video or images of you during intimate moments, as well as access to your friends’ and family’s contact information. If you don’t pay the requested amount of Bitcoin to the scammers, they threaten that they will release those images to your contacts or post them online.
These scams are common for the obvious reasons that people innately fear their most private moments becoming public. The scammers will typically claim that they embedded spyware on your computer, which activated when you visited an adult website, and switched on your webcam to record you. The email that you receive from the scammer may even contain personal information, usually in the form of a password, to convince you that they did actually hack your computer. According to Paul Ducklin, senior technologist at British security company Sophos, those passwords may be real, but they’re likely not recent ones. In most cases, they were gathered from old data breaches.
To alleviate fears of someone hacking your webcam, you could leave a cover on it when you’re not using it. However, Ducklin notes that these emails are often “bluffs.” The scammers typically haven’t accessed your webcam or private images, but hope that you’ll just pay the requested amount of Bitcoin because you don’t want to risk exposure of your compromising information.