How to deal with the “Start The Conversation With Bad News” email scam
This generic “Start The Conversation With Bad News” sextortion email scam claims that a video of you watching pornography will be released if you refuse to pay $1370. While not technically correct, these types of emails are generally classified as sextortion scams because they threaten users with their private videos, even if they don’t actually exist. These sextortion scams have become quite common in recent years, and many users have likely received some kind of variation of this email. It goes without saying that everything the emails say is complete nonsense. You can just remove “Start The Conversation With Bad News” email scam from your inbox if you happen to receive it.
In recent years, sextortion scam emails have become very common, with new variations appearing every now and then. Sextortion email campaigns are likely operated by different cyber criminals/gangs but they’re all more or less identical to one another. The phrasing may differ but the main idea is the same. The emails first try to scare users by claiming that “My software enables me with access to all controllers inside devices of yours, like microphone, keyboard and video camera”, “I can effortlessly gain access to all your messengers, social networks accounts, emails, contact list as well as chat history”, etc. At first, these kinds of claims may seem alarming but if you take the time to calmly think about it, it’s clear that they’re complete nonsense. The sender of this sextortion email goes on to explain how they were able to infect your device with a trojan that essentially gave them remote access to your device. This allegedly allowed them to record a video of you watching adult videos. Supposedly, they have made a dual video of you watching pornography on one side and the video you were supposedly watching on the other.
These scams come in a variety of forms, but sextortion scams are the most convincing. In other similar emails, malicious actors hint that if payment is not made, you may become the victim of an assassination attempt. Another claims that a bomb will go off at your workplace if money is not paid. Users also got emails during the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to infect them and their families with the virus if they did not pay money. It’s highly unlikely that these scam campaigns make any money because of how ridiculous they are. But sextortion scams in particular have proved to be successful in some cases as money has been transferred to scammers’ accounts.
In this particular case, you are urged to send $1370 to the specified account. If you don’t, they supposedly will put the video online and distribute it to everyone you know. Despite the fact that these claims may appear alarming, it goes without saying that they are complete nonsense. There is no video, and there is no trojan on your computer. As soon as you receive the “Start The Conversation With Bad News” email scam, delete it from your inbox.
Sextortion scams also reveal users’ passwords
Sextortion email senders often claim that the reason why victims are receiving these emails is that a virus has been installed on their computers and that their email accounts have been hijacked. But in reality, that is not the case at all. What happened is your email address was leaked/exposed by a service you use, or it was a part of a data breach. An email address that has been compromised typically ends up in a database with other compromised email addresses. These databases can then be purchased by other malicious actors from hacker forums. If your email account has been compromised, you can check on haveibeenpwned. Unfortunately, because cyber criminals already have your email address and you’ve already received one sextortion email, it’s likely that you may get more in the future. But the good news is that they’re harmless, and you can ignore them completely.
In somewhat more sophisticated sextortion scams, malicious actors take their deception a step further by displaying users’ actual passwords. The emails immediately become more believable when users find their credentials clearly displayed. Users likely wonder how else would the hackers get the password if not because they hacked their account(s). But there is a very simple explanation for how malicious actors get access to passwords. Passwords also get leaked and end up on hacker forums. So if you see a password you currently use, it’s been leaked, and you need to change it immediately. Keep in mind that every account, regardless of how minor, needs to have a unique password. Additionally, when creating your passwords, make sure to have a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Using a password manager is also a good idea because they not only store passwords but also generate strong ones that would take ages to crack.