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two hackers arrested after trying to extort millions of French people with webcam blackmail

The cybercrime section of the Criminal Investigation Department arrested two hackers who sent millions of emails for a year in an attempt to scam French internet users.

Investigators call this blackmail at “cryptoporno” or “SEXTORTION“Two 21-year-old hackers were arrested, one in September and the other in early December. These two hackers are suspected of having sent nearly 20 million emails to French internet users between summer 2018 and mid 2019 for racketeering.

In their emails, they claimed to have hacked the webcam of these Internet users and claimed to have compromising images of them viewing pornographic videos. The hackers then demanded money so that these videos were not disclosed.

In February 2019, Dominique was the recipient of one of these emails. “Çstarted with 'you don't know me, I'm a hacker, I put a virus on the porn site and guess what, you visited this site' “.

Screen capture of the blackmail email received by a user. (Boris Hallier / FRANCEINFO)

I had 48 hours to pay.Dominique, a surfer

The hackers demanded between 500 and 700 euros, all in bitcoins, an encrypted currency well known to hackers, but Dominique did not get caught and reported this email to the judicial police via the Pharos site. Other internet users have also given the alert on the platform. Jérôme Notin, manager of this site says he was “quite surprised“.

The phenomenon was not new but there, it is the scale which was very importante, he explains. In 48 hours, we made the choice to modify our victim journey, to integrate this cyber malevolence into the questions we were asking, we published an article which was massively relayed, and then we exchanged with the investigation services and the justice services“, explains Jérôme Notin.

In all, investigators received 28,000 reports and nearly 2,000 complaints were filed. This made it possible to speed up the investigation, according to Catherine Chambon, assistant director of the fight against cybercrime at the judicial police. “The problem for us is to have clear visibility on those who have actually paid”, says she.

The overall damage can be estimated at one million euros.Catherine Chambon

This remains an estimate underlines Catherine Chambon. The authorities continue to advise Internet users to immediately report these blackmail emails to the authorities. Above all, you must not give in and not pay. In a few months, the Thésée platform launched by the Ministry of the Interior will be available to directly file complaints for online scams.

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