According to this message, which is targeted at website owners, the senders have hacked your website and extracted your database.
The message threatens to leak or sell the stolen database, destroy your online reputation and de-index your site in search engines unless you send $2000 in Bitcoin within 5 days.
Just a Bluff
However, the message is just an idle bluff designed to panic inexperienced website owners into sending money to criminals. The senders have not really hacked your site or stolen your database.
In fact, they distribute large numbers of identical messages to many different websites in the hope that just a few recipients will fall for the ruse and pay up. Even if only a few site owners are taken in by the trick and send money, the scam campaign will turn out profitable for the online criminals who launched it.
These crooks use predefined templates for their scam messages and simply add in the URL of the site being targetted. The messages are often sent via the targeted website’s contact form.
Of course, if hackers had really taken control of your site as claimed in the messages, they could easily prove this to you in various ways. For example, they can make visible changes to the site, or send a sample of the customer information they claim to have stolen.
Instead, they send a generic email that claims that they have hacked your site but offer not the slightest shred of proof that they have actually done so.
Don’t Respond – Just Delete
If you receive one of these messages, do not respond to it. Do not send money or information. Just delete the message.
If your site had really been hacked, you would likely receive alerts via your site security scanners, your hosting company, your customers, or Google Search Console. There are also various ways that you can check for yourself.
Similar To Fake Blackmail Sextortion Scams
These scammers use a similar tactic to that used by sextortion scammers who distribute emails falsely claiming that they have recorded you visiting a porn site and will send the compromising video to all of your contacts if you don’t send money.
As with the hacked site versions, the sextortion emails are just bluffs designed to panic people into sending Bitcoin.
An example of the scam message:
Subject: Your site has been hacked
PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO SOMEONE IN YOUR COMPANY WHO IS ALLOWED TO MAKE IMPORTANT DECISIONS!
We have hacked your website [SITE URL REMOVED] and extracted your databases. How did this happen? Our team has found a vulnerability within your site that we were able to exploit. After finding the vulnerability we were able to get your database credentials and extract your entire database and move the information to an offshore server. What does this mean? We will systematically go through a series of steps of totally damaging your reputation.
First your database will be leaked or sold to the highest bidder which they will use with whatever their intentions are. Next if there are e-mails found they will be e-mailed that their information has been sold or leaked and your site [SITE URL REMOVED] was at fault thusly damaging your reputation and having angry customers/associates with whatever angry customers/associates do.
Lastly any links that you have indexed in the search engines will be de-indexed based off of blackhat techniques that we used in the past to de-index our targets.
How do I stop this? We are willing to refrain from destroying your site’s reputation for a small fee. The current fee is $2000 USD in bitcoins (BTC). Send the bitcoin to the following Bitcoin address (Copy and paste as it is case sensitive): 1Bs6CYDuHy1UGLr5ccz2UxRNcPGpeAa7tz
Once you have paid we will automatically get informed that it was your payment. Please note that you have to make payment within 5 days after receiving this notice or the database leak, e-mails dispatched, and de-index of your site WILL start!
How do I get Bitcoins? You can easily buy bitcoins via several websites or even offline from a Bitcoin-ATM. We suggest you to start with http://coinmama.com for buying bitcoins with credit/debit cards or http://localbitcoins.com for other type of payments.
What if I don’t pay? If you decide not to pay, we will start the attack at the indicated date and uphold it until you do, there’s no counter measure to this, you will only end up wasting more money trying to find a solution. We will completely destroy your reputation amongst google and your customers. This is not a hoax, do not reply to this email, don’t try to reason or negotiate, we will not read any replies. Once you have paid we will stop what we were doing and you will never hear from us again! Please note that Bitcoin is anonymous and no one will find out that you have complied.
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!