Sextortion Bitcoin scheme also targets agents
MAIN IMAGE: Don’t panic over threatening emails by cybercriminals – they are lying say experts.
After one of their estate agents was recently targeted by a sextortion Bitcoin scam, RE/MAX of Southern Africa is encouraging agents to report these cybercriminals.
Kobie Potgieter of RE/MAX Independent Properties operating in Port Elizabeth, recently received a threatening email from a group of cybercriminals who call themselves ‘Better Pay SA’. In the email (see excerpt below), sent from an untraceable email address, one ‘Faraji’ falsely claims they are acting on behalf of a dissatisfied client of Potgieter’s and threatens to ruin her reputation in a smear campaign unless she pays them USD $10 000 in crypto currency.
An excerpt from the scam email sent to Kobie Potgieter.
Allegedly, another agent from a different property brand was also targeted but preferred not to go public with it.
A quick Google search reveals that these type of cyberattacks, called sextortion Bitcoin schemes, have been harassing internet users around the globe since 2017 with activity picking up mid-last year. In Potgieter’s case she was threatened that pornographic images where her face had been photoshopped onto naked bodies would be distributed but victims have also been threatened that their passwords are known giving the attacker access to their PC, files, webcams, browsing history – in short, anything personal and sensitive. The scarier they can make it sound the better. Victims have even been threatened that the scammers have video footage of them browsing pornographic sites.
“I feel strongly that if we keep quiet, we are giving the perpetrators power. We should not be scared of these faceless thugs that are trying to prey off innocent people in our communities! Instead of paying the ransom amount, I suggest that other victims share the emails from the perpetrators so that they do not succeed in their extortion attempts,” says Potgieter.
Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, is appalled by these threats and stands with Potgieter’s decision to speak out against these criminals: “We vehemently condemn this behaviour and advise all our agents against giving into the demands of these cybercriminals. Instead, our network has been advised to report any similar attacks to the relevant authorities and to spread the word about this gross extortion campaign to thwart these cyber criminals’ misguided attempt at blackmail,” Goslett concludes.
Don’t panic if you receive such an email – the scammers don’t have access to your computer. At most they may have an old password of yours says Chris Boyd, lead malware intelligence analyst. If that is the case change your passwords, especially if you are sharing the same password across platforms. If you are able, report these emails before deleting them and most certainly don’t pay these criminals one cent.