SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — For this Your Stories Investigation, News 8 looks into an old scam with a new twist.
There's a sextortion scam going around that sends you a threatening email with one of your passwords included.
News 8's Marcella Lee received it herself and reports with the details, and how much this scam - and similar ones - cost people each year.
I get a lot of spam in my email but this one was different. This one had my password. An actual password I have used, right in the subject line. And that kind of stopped my heart for just a moment.
I opened the email to figure out what was going on.
"How did someone have my password?” I wondered.
Then I read these alarming words:
Hi, I'm the hacker who cracked your email.
I installed a virus on your device.
Here's your password from the moment of hack.
My head started spinning until I got to this part of the email:
I am in shock of your current fantasies! I have certainly not noticed anything like this!
I knew then: this was a scam.
I created screen shots via your camera.
Now there will certainly be laughter when I send these photos to your associates.
I knew I'd visited no questionable sites.
There were threats in the scam email and a blackmail attempt, but I wasn't worried about being blackmailed.
But my mind was still racing:
I knew there were no photos but still, how did someone get my password?
This was an old password, but I sometimes use variations of it- so I started doing some research online.
I found several recent articles on tech and security websites warning people about the new, explosive twist, to an old scam.
Sextortion scams have been around for a long time but this one’s different because it puts your password in there.
Thousands of users who received the same email have tried to determine how their old passwords were exposed.
Then someone I saw someone said, “this was the password to my MySpace account,” and ding - the lightbulb went on.
That's the password I used for an old work-related MySpace account, which like others I forgot I even had. The company's database was hacked a few years ago compromising millions of passwords that are still floating around on the web.
Unfortunately, people are falling for these scams, the FBI tells me so far this year, it's had 45,864 extortion complaints with losses totaling $72,806,323.