Blackmailers are demanding Bitcoin ransoms from men randomly accused of cheating with their wives.
Crooks are sending notes through the post or by email.
They accuse the men of cheating or claim they have taken over their laptop webcams and recorded them accessing porn web sites.
After a list of sordid accusations, the blackmailer typically demands Bitcoin worth up to $2,000.
One letter says: “I’m going to cut to the chase. I know you cheated on your wife and I have evidence of your infidelity… its just your bad luck I stumbled across your misadventures.
“I am giving you two options. Either ignore this letter or pay me $2,000.
Ignore at your peril
“If you ignore this letter, I will send the evidence to your wife and as insurance against you intercepting it, I will send copies to her friends and family. Even if you come clean to your wife about your cheating, doing so won’t protect her from the humiliation she will feel when she finds out the sordid details from me.
“Option 2 is to pay the $2,000 and I will destroy the evidence and forget I ever heard of you.
“You may be thinking this is blackmail and yes, it is. I have taken steps to avoid this letter being traced back to me and going to the cops won’t stop the evidence being sent out and destroying your life.”
Variants on the scam claim to have webcam footage of potential victims accessing porn sites online and included old passwords grabbed from online security breaches from up to a decade ago.
No reports of scam succeeding
One of the letters went to university professor David Eargle in Colorado, USA.
Dozens of other victims have contacted him after posting details of experiences online.
“The password may be one that the recipient has used, but it’s very unlikely that the scammer has installed any malware on your computer,” says one online security consultant.
“While sextortion scams like this have been attempted for years, there are no reports of any scammers using this tactic and actually installing malware to film someone pleasuring themselves while watching porn. It’s much easier to just lie about it and convince people that this has happened.”