Friday, July 27, 2018

A scammer tries to threaten the Overeducated Housewife...


PIXABAY/PUBLIC DOMAIN

Picture it.  You've just opened your eyes for the first time of the day.  You're scanning your email messages, most of which are either from mailing lists or just plain junk.  Your eyes hit a message entitled, "Alert!", followed by part of your email address and one of your passwords.

You scan the message and it's basically full of threats and accusations, followed by a demand for money paid in bitcoin.  The scammer claims he or she has infected your computer with malware that can turn on your webcam and has filmed you doing nasty things as you view porn.  If you don't pay up, the scammer is going to send a sex video of you to your online contacts.

I got a message like that this morning.  There I was, sitting on the toilet, doing my morning constitutionals and deleting most of the worthless spam that collects in my email accounts every night.  I got an email from a chap calling himself "Elton Delaney"... (almost certainly not his or her real name).  For the purposes of this blog post, I will refer to "Elton" as male, even though it's just as likely that the culprit is female.  Here is a screenshot of what Elton sent me last night as I was going to sleep.


I confess to being a little startled by this message... 

I'll admit, my first reaction to this email was shock and alarm.  I was barely awake and, the fact is, Elton did have one of my passwords. It's a very old and weak one that I used on a regular basis maybe 15 years ago.  I have long since upgraded my passwords to more secure ones.  The password Elton has won't grant access to much now.  

Elton had sent the message to my newest email account, one that I don't use for emails to friends and family.  Clearly, my email was in a database that got hacked and sold to scuzzy lowlife bottom feeders like Elton and his ilk.  Still, in my sleepy condition, I was initially taken aback by this message.  Poorly written as it is, it was designed to provoke a panicked response, prompting victims to act before thinking.  I surmise that some people must have taken the bait and paid up.  Fortunately, I am not among the duped.  My brain kicked in and I realized that Elton is full of shit.


Elton wants me to pay him almost $4000 to keep Bill and a bunch of online retailers from seeing intimate videos of me.  It's not happening.  Actually, Bill would probably enjoy seeing such a video.  It's a shame one doesn't exist.

Despite Elton's ominous threats, I deleted the message without sending him a .5 bitcoin payment, finished my morning rituals, stripped the sheets off the bed for the wash, and then went down to the living room, where Bill had already set out my morning coffee.  I told Bill about Elton's threat.  Not long ago, Bill finished his second master's degree in cybersecurity.  I thought he'd get a kick out of hearing about the threatening scam email I received.  I joked to Bill that Elton might send him a video of me doing what he's seen me do live thousands of times since we've been married.  Believe me, it's just not that exciting.  

Then I did a quick Google search and found that this particular email scam, which has evidently been around for years, has recently resurged.  Of all of the email phishing scams I've seen, this one is probably one of the most infuriating.  It employs shame and the threat of humiliation to blackmail and extort money from the unaware.  While I know what Elton claims to have on me would not be very interesting to my email contacts, plenty of people are looking at things online that might damage their reputations or upset their friends and loved ones.  Those people, eager to keep their embarrassing online habits under wraps, are most likely to give in to demands for payment.  Unfortunately, our culture promotes shame, especially regarding sexual matters.

Although some people have been swindled by these emails, the scammers themselves are often quite stupid.  Here's a link to a story out of Miami where a woman named Briyana Valls tried to extort money using threatening text messages.  She texted a guy who had briefly left his phone unattended at a bar, and threatened to tell his wife he was cheating on her unless he paid Valls $500.  For all of her threats, Valls didn't prove to be very savvy.  She agreed to be paid in person, and that's when she got nabbed by the police. Valls is now cooling her heels in jail, where she faces extortion and grand theft charges.  The FBI also recently issued a warning about these email scams. 

Sure, I've looked at porn on the Internet.  I expect a whole lot of people have.  It's not something I do very often, though, because frankly, I find most porn videos boring and kind of gross.  I am much more inclined to read dirty stories, and most of the free ones on the Internet are terrible.  I'd do better to write them myself.  There was even a period in my life when I wrote erotica just to pass the time.  It's part of what attracted Bill to me.  Given that fact, Elton's threats mean very little, especially since I don't have a boss and my mother doesn't use the Internet.  If she did, I doubt she'd care that her married 46 year old daughter is finally sexually active.    

But even if I was watching a lot of porn and Elton's threats were somehow credible, there is just no way Elton got any videos of me doing nasty things.  It simply didn't happen.  There is no way it could have.  If Elton did send all of my contacts a "sex video" of me, it would probably either bore them to tears or make them laugh.  Besides, most of the people who would be getting the videos would be spammers like him and burned out online retailers who might welcome the distraction.  I don't use that particular email address for communicating with most of my loved ones.  The lone exception is Bill, who is well aware of my tastes for sexually explicit stuff.

I was also pretty put off by Elton's nasty and threatening tone.  Some of the scammers who send out these emails are at least decent enough to be funny.  Elton's email requesting money comes across as very rude.  It definitely wasn't something I wanted to read first thing in the morning.  Hey Elton, you get more flies with honey than vinegar, you feckless fuckstick.  The next time you send me a threatening email, have the decency to say "please" and "thank you".  Maybe if you did that more often, your life's mission wouldn't be reduced to sending pathetic scam emails to uninteresting and unsexy overeducated housewives like me.

So... if you happen to get one of these emails yourself, just toss it into the round file.  Don't worry.  It's a scam.  If any of you happen to get a video of me doing nasty things, I hope you enjoy it.  And Elton, if you ever read this post, please go fuck yourself... and be sure to video it and send it to all of your friends and loved ones.

Edited to add:  Bill says the people behind this scam have already collected over $250,000.  Don't fall for it!

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