Some scammers will try and trick unsuspecting victims into feeling vulnerable before taking advantage of their panicked state to steal money. One way of doing this is in the form of extortion scams, which is where someone threatens, coerces, or blackmails the victim into providing a form of payment or service.

Extortion email scams are a serious safety concern and that's what we'll be focusing on here. We'll be diving into what this scam is and what to do if you receive one of these extortion emails from a scammer.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.


What's an extortion email scam?

As the name suggests, this scam involves a scammer sending an email to an unsuspecting recipient claiming that they have some embarrassing or compromising information on the recipient and will make it public unless they pay up. Payments are often made in cryptocurrency, allowing scammers to easily collect the money anonymously.

The key thing in making the extortion attempt seem believable is that the scam email sent may include a password that the recipient may have used in the past. This makes it seem like the recipient has been hacked and they'll feel the need to give in to the scammer's extortion demand.

Here's an example of a fake extortion email:

What to do if receive an extortion email?

The first thing is to not panic and keep calm. It is very unlikely that these scammers will have any compromising video on you - they're just trying to freak you out and take advantage of you when you're frazzled.

  • Never transfer any money or cryptocurrency.

  • If the password included in the scam email is a password you recognise, change your password for any account where it has been used.

    • It is likely that the cited password in the email is an old valid password that was disclosed as a result of a previous compromise of an unrelated account or a service. The scammer is simply leveraging older compromised credential lists to more narrowly target victims in their extortion scam campaign.

  • Do not reply and do not click on any links.

  • Be aware that the scammer has the ability to make the email appear as if it has come from your own email address. Delete the email immediately.

  • If you feel like you're a victim of an extortion email scam, report it to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.


If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: Carnegie Mellon University, Mirage News, and South Australia Police

Image credit: Sorry to Bother You

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health professional.

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