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Avast Blog_Security News: Cyber-extortion is spreading
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Users are pressured to pay up or get hit by WannaCry ransomware and a DDoS attack. Don’t fall for this extortion email scam this tax season.

As if tax season isn’t stressful enough, a new extortion email scam is currently underway to steal your personal details and commit fraudulent activities. Hackers are demanding two bitcoins from victims in exchange for keeping quiet about their presumed “tax evasion”. If they do not pay, they will find themselves hit with a DDoS attack and WannaCry ransomware.

These particular emails have the subject line: "Incident: [random characters]" and the first sentence states: "Forward this mail to whoever is important in your company and can make decision!"

Threats and high-pressure tactics like these show classic signs of a scam in play, attempting to separate people from their money, data, property, or services through coercion.

Here’s how a cyber-blackmail scam starts: Cybercriminals contact you via email or social media, insisting they have: (1) the password to one of your accounts, (2) a hitman contract (yikes!), or (3) evidence of egregious behavior — cheating on your wife, webcam footage of you watching porn, or, in this case, hiding your taxes.

To make the problem go away, cybercriminals would typically ask for your credit card number. But most recently, they’ve demanded payment in Bitcoin or another type of cryptocurrency since these transactions are fast, worldwide, and untraceable.

Most individuals on the receiving end of a scam are quick to pay up in order to avoid embarrassment. Businesses, meanwhile, are more cautious; they’re more likely to contact law enforcement for further investigation and possible prosecution.

“This is an evolved version of the ‘Police Virus’ or ‘Police Trojan’ which targeted most of Europe in 2011,” comments Avast security expert Luis Corrons. “Cyberattackers posed as different law enforcement agencies, even localizing messages in English, German, Dutch, and Spanish, among others. In the message, it claimed to have detected illegal content from that computer and, to avoid prosecution, a €100 fine must be paid.”
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