Aggressive sextortion emails hitting Irish inboxes accuse victims of paedophilia

12 Sep 2019

Image: © Kenishirotie/

As part of the latest sextortion scam, Irish email inboxes are being sent aggressive messages accusing the target of being a paedophile.

Email scammers are going to great lengths to convince unwitting members of the public to hand over large sums of money via bitcoin as part of a new ‘sextortion’ attempt. This is branch of phishing where the scammer tries to trick you into thinking they know you have sexually explicit material on your computer that would be embarrassing if made public.

While this method has been around for some time, Eset Ireland has reported that scammers are now becoming more aggressive in their claims. Several emails seen by the security research group show the authors accusing the target of being a paedophile, adding they have used spyware to extract files from the computer as evidence.

With much of the language quite disturbing, the email reads: “Yeah. I know you are a paedophile. Actually, I know way more about you than you think.

“I am a computer scientist (internet security specialist) with affiliation with the Anonymous group. [A] few months ago you downloaded an application. That application had a special code implanted purposely.”

How to react

Later in the email, the scammer claims to have obtained four video files captured from the target’s webcam showing them watching child abuse. “Glued together [this] is pretty overwhelming evidence that you are a paedophile,” the email says.

“Because I know you are a wealthy person and that you do care about your reputation, I am willing to gίve you a chance to atone and I will leave you alone,” it continues.

The ransom set by the scammers is £5,000 to be sent via bitcoin, including a threat that any attempts to contact the police will see the files released.

Writing in its blog post about the latest scam, Eset Ireland said: “These emails fit into the social engineering category trying to manipulate victims into paying the extortionists various sums of money, by claiming they have incriminating evidence of the victim’s wrongdoings.

“The vast majority of these are just threats, but there have been cases of cybercriminals actually remotely activating laptop and smartphone cameras and blackmailing their owners with the videos recorded.”

Eset Ireland warns those who receive it to not click on any links within the email and not to comply with the demands. If personal identifiable information is contained in the email, it is best to contact An Garda Síochána.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic