Threat Alert: Scammers using sex to extort money

Shipping and shopping scams also continue to find victims

Scammers have discovered that using information about sexual activity, whether real or not, is an effective way to extort money from victims. The trend began late last year and has only increased.

The latest ConsumerAffairs-Trend Micro Threat Alert found the scheme has become even more brazen.

Sextortion Phishing  

  • Trend Micro's research team discovered scammer e posing as YouPorn, a free online adult video service, and requesting payments in Bitcoin from victims. These scammers claim that the victim has uploaded sexual content on their platform. 

  • Trend Micro detected 67,366 logs on Aug 21. 

“This scam involves them contacting their victims and stating they have uploaded sexual content which the scammers have and will leak publicly or send to their family and friends if not paid an extortion fee in bitcoin,” said Jon Clay, vice president of Threat Intelligence at Trend Micro. “Trend Micro has recently seen over 67,000 of these scams in one day. Consumers who receive one of these messages should pause and consider this is most likely a scam and can reach out to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or report the crime online at” 

USPS Shipping Scam 

  • Trend Micro's research team identified scammers impersonating USPS to inform users they parcel delivery failed due to incomplete address information and asked victims to fill out personal and credit card information on fake USPS websites. 

  • Top five states being targeted are Florida, Texas, California, Washington and Illinois 

Australia Post Scam 

  • Similar to what Trend Micro identified last week, scammers disguised as the Australia Post notifying victims that their parcel delivery was unsuccessful, then asking for their name, address, and credit card information to redeliver their package.  

  • Top five states being targeted are Texas, California, Virginia, Ohio and Florida 

These two shipping scams are very similar. They both seek payment information as well as personal information that can be used for identity theft.

In reality, if the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t have enough information to deliver a package it will normally return it to the sender. And consider this – if it can find your phone number or email address, why can’t it find your physical address?

Back to School Shopping Scam 

  • Between July 1-August 20, 2023, Trend Micro’s research team detected 179,646 back-to-school shopping-related scam URLs, which increased by 18% compared to the past 7 days.  

  • Trend Micro detected a 64.12% year-over-year increase. 

  • Top five states being targeted are Oregon, Virginia, California, Texas and New York 

Shopping scams generally leverage holidays, such as Mother’s Day, to trick consumers. These scams proliferated during the pandemic when there was a surge in online shopping.

One study found that an estimated 29% of people shopped online before the COVID-19 pandemic, but that percentage had grown to 37% by the end of 2020.

Travel Scam 

  • Between April 1 to August 20, Trend Micro’s research team detected 2,789 travel-related scam URLs, which increased by 4.3% compared to the past weeks.  

  • Trend Micro identified 2 fake Airbnb pages, with over one-third of the victims from Oregon (32.03%). 

  • Top five states being targeted are Oregon, Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania and Illinois 

In particular, scammers have targeted airline passengers this summer. For example, a random phishing email claims that you are getting a $500 travel credit from Delta Airlines that you can apply to a future trip.

You’re told to click on a link in the message, which is never a good idea. Victims either download malware or are taken to a site where they are told to enter personal information.

Crypto Scam 

  • Trend Micro's research team identified scammers pretending to be ChainGPT, saying they were going to launch a time-limited and the biggest airdrop of the crypto community. Scammers asked victims to claim it with some log-in process, offering victims a chance be able to receive up to 1000 ChainGPT Blockchain Tokens.  

  • Trend Micro detected 157 logs on Aug 19. 

The Federal Trade Commission offers some helpful information about Crypto scams here.  

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