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Scam watch: acid attack ransom

A member recently received a very threatening email. We take a look at the rise of this ‘terrifying’ email scam.

The person behind this scam purports to run a site on the dark web that provides all sorts of ‘terrible services’, and that they’d been hired to attack the recipient with acid.

The only way to stop their man from ‘fufilling the task’, allegedly, was to pay them $1,300 in Bitcoin.

How to spot an email scam

The member lives in London, where acid attacks have taken place in the past, which made the threat all the more scary.

Horrified and concerned, they contacted the police, but later discovered it was a scam. The question then turned to how these emails can be reported.

How to report a ransom scam

This is a truly terrifying email to receive and, given the threat it contained, I can understand why the member reported it to the police.

We asked the member to foward us the email and, now I’ve taken a look,  it appears to be a new version of the sextortion email scam that we covered in Scam Watch in October.

That scam seems to have morphed and is now much more threatening.

Since December, Action Fraud has had more than 150 reports of this acid attack scam, so you’re not alone and you’re right to raise awareness to warn others. If you’re sent this scam, do not reply to it.

Delete the email, use Action Fraud’s phishing reporting tool, and try to put it out of your thoughts.

If scammers have been in contact with you, email us at scamwatch@which.co.uk, or let us know in the comments below.

The more examples of the scammers’ tactics we see, the more people we can warn and help prevent this type of fraud from going ahead.

Comments

Most such threats are taken seriously enough to assume that the threat might actually be carried out. When this happens in real life, and the perpetrator is caught, the sentence given considers the offence to be a dangerous one and the person has the possible intention of doing the deed. The problem here is that this scam is anonymous and no one can be brought to book. The department responsible for investigating these threats need to find the source and eradicate it. When caught the scammer should be assumed to mean what he has threatened to do. Once again the internet is proving difficult to police effectively. No arrests? We can do what we like, you can’t stop us.

I share Vynor’s concerns about the difficulty of tackling scams. Most of us can recognise real or possible scams to part us from our money but ones such as this that threaten us and our families with harm are far more worrying.

MICHAEL A COSTEN says:
2 March 2019

if the Government was serious about stopping these type of emails and social media sites which propose and encourage terrorism and grooming children into unlawful sex acts etc. the answer is to charge the Owners and Directors of these sites with aiding and abetting these crimes and I guarantee the sites will be taken down within a couple of days if not within hours.

Pava says:
2 March 2019

I redceived two threatening emails last year both basically the same saying that they had my email password (which they did – but one I used 10 years ago) and that they had accessed my camera and could read the documents on my desk and see what I was up to. They clained to have video of me and threatened to send it to all in my address book. I don’t have a camera on my PC. So no worries. I also advised action fraud who told me that if I ever did have a camera connected to cover the lens with masking tape as hackers can access cameras without one knowing. I dids not reply.