Sextortion Actors Turn From Bitcoin to Prepaid Debit Cards

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated December 16, 2019

As reported by Kaspersky, there’s a growing trend that wants scammers preferring prepaid debit cards instead of Bitcoin payments. According to the provided details, new sextortion campaigns that are targeting Brazilian users are urging the victims to visit a physical store such as Walmart, Lojas Americanas, or Casas Bahia, and purchase the requested amount in prepaid debit cards. Then, the victim must take a photograph of both sides of the card and then send the pictures to the scammer’s email address. It’s all safe and anonymous for the malicious actors, which is why it beats Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is “pseudonymous” because users can be traced back to their IP addresses. Moreover, investigators can put wallets into a monitored-state, so when something moves to a bank account, it is noticed. Finally, there are some very sophisticated ways to perform blockchain analysis, which have been developed to help tackle money laundering and criminal activity. So, Bitcoin transactions can often expose the real address and real identity of the actors who hide behind them, and they often require additional steps to manage anyway, so prepaid cards are preferable from any way you see it.

Because these cards are bought without providing any identification, and due to the fact that nothing has to pass through a bank, there is no step of verification during the reception or the use of the codes. Even if someone would be tracked down after using a particular Acesso card code, they could easily claim that someone just randomly sent the code to them via email. After all, the extortion is done via a different email address than the one that’s supposed to receive the payment. The Acesso cards start at a cost of around $3.5 and can reach whatever amount the buyer wants to top it up with.


Source: Kaspersky Blog

As for the campaign itself, the scammers are using a set of email templates in Portuguese which looks like it has been translated using a free online tool. Thus, the actors are unlikely to be locals. However, they do know everything about the Acesso cards, where they are sold, and what their usage limitations are. This new ransom payment platform is blowing air on the sails of sextortion campaigns, so the authorities should revisit the legislative context that underpins these cards and add an activation step that requires some form of identity verification.

Have you received an email that asks you to buy a prepaid debit card? Share the details with us in the section down below, or on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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