The latest Sophos report states that Bitcoin sextortion scams are not as lucrative as they sound. Analysis firm CipherTrace and Sophos have jointly complied with a report that tracks down the flow of money associated with various online Bitcoin sextortion scams and found that these scams make an average of just $100,000 per month.
We followed the flow of $ in a massive “sextortion” spam scheme and found that millions of messages like this one were sent between Sept. 1, 2019 and Jan. 31, 2020 – generating nearly a half-million US dollars in profits for Internet criminals.
— SophosLabs (@SophosLabs) April 23, 2020
Moreover, the profit figures have collapsed lately due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Even though they make less money compared to other crypto scams, these scammers are not less scary. Victims of these Bitcoin sextortion scams are terrified of their private pictures being leaked online. The prospect of a stranger in-charge of your private pictures can be intimidating.
Bitcoin sextortion scams are puny compared to other scams
Most Bitcoin sextortion scams demand that victims pay them a certain amount in BTC else they will make public the victim’s explicit pictures pleasuring themselves. Sophos, a cybersecurity firm, has complied with data about these scams in collaboration with crypto analytics firm CipherTrace.
Fortunately, the report mentions how these scams aren’t all that lucrative. This means that they aren’t able to lure in too many people in their trap – which is a good thing. In total, Sophos tracked the scammers for five months period and found that they earned a mere 50.98 BTC which translates to approximately $500,000.
Compared to this, the dForce attack recently caused damage of $25 million. The bZx attack was worth $1 million. Therefore, the Bitcoin sextortion scams are just the tip of the iceberg.
What is the scale of Bitcoin sextortion scams
Given the low profits, the exact number of scammers cannot be determined. Sophos estimates that the number could be a few to large groups operating in tandem. Additionally, Sophos reported that smaller BTC accounts were combined to pool funds into larger accounts. This helps the scammers can target a wider online illicit market.
Ransomware attackers aren't letting up on anyone during the Covid-19 crisis, including healthcare providers, but their tactics have shifted. https://t.co/rV39I5GakO
— Chainalysis (@chainalysis) April 14, 2020
The stolen BTC is often used to buy merchandise from the dark web. Stolen credit card data is the item of choice for most scammers. According to Chainalysis, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Bitcoin sextortion scams. Their profits have dwindled significantly. The reason could be that the scammers are now asking low ransom amounts.