back to article Protip: No, the CIA will not call off a pedophilia probe into your life in exchange for Bitcoin

Fraudsters are posing as CIA investigators gone rogue in emails to marks, offering to take bribes to drop bogus investigations into the recipients and claims of online pedophilia, according to Kaspersky. The security shop says the scammers are spraying out spam messages in which they pretend to be Uncle Sam's agents conducting …

  1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    Happy

    I've got a bridge to sell ...

    And I'll make you rich if you buy the bridge I am selling.

    1. Jake Maverick

      Re: I've got a bridge to sell ...

      will you take my magic beans as payment?

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    The scammers really have the target market nailed down though, haven't they.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Devil

      It has been ever so since the first fraud (maybe Pleistocene, "I have a lovely mammoth to sell you - to we get the discount by making them DIY, just round that corner",

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        I was thinking more of the prevalence of child abusers in the virtual currency "community" but yeah, that too.

        1. Jamtea

          Who on earth thinks this? Clearly it is targeted at non-tech savvy people who DON'T understand bitcoin nor basic email scams.

          I can only assume you have an axe to grind with cryptocurrency that you want to attribute criminals to it?

          1. Kiwi Silver badge
            Holmes

            I can only assume you have an axe to grind with cryptocurrency that you want to attribute criminals to it?

            A completely untraceable, easily internationally exchangeable currency? That you could use to buy stuff and no one knows where it came from or what you brought with it? That doesn't have your credit card number, bank account, or other identifying stuff associated with it?

            Nah, that'd never be of interest to crims.

            (FTR, I am all for untraceable currencies - if I want to buy something I don't want all the advertising companies and TLA's etc knowing what I buy, that's between me and the toyshop THVM)

  3. Blockchain commentard Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Yet when I emailed all the CIA saying I know they're a double agent and to pay me in BItcoin to keep quiet, they investigate. What gives?

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    Phishing sting

    The alternative is that this IS an operation run by the spooks that will get those who pay a genuine investigation.

  5. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    I got the headline all backwards

    I assumed the FBI could not be bought off in advance because they expected to steal the bitcoin afterwards anyway.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge

      Re: I got the headline all backwards

      I assumed the FBI could not be bought off in advance because they expected to steal the bitcoin afterwards anyway.

      Depends on if it's a corporate- or self-minded person leading the investigation. Corporate - the FBI gets the bitcoin after the fact. Self- he wants to line his pockets first, let HQ get the house and car and traceable stuff.

      Not that the FBI are corrupt mind.. No, all above-board extremely well vetted totally law-abiding citizens that lot!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    evil genius

    So not only do they make money off anyone stupid enough to pay up, their targets are ripe for further blackmail because they've basically admitted being paedophiles.

  7. Jamesit

    I hope I get one of these, I'd like to see how long I could keep it going on:-) I had a tech support scammer call me an arsehole for wasting his time, and another one at the same number tell me to go fuck myself:-)

    I was only able to keep them on the line for about 4 minutes each:-( if I hadn't been tired I could have stayed on longer.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Trollface

      Always a good windup when you pretend goss ignorance and lead them on unable to do what they want until finally identifying your box as a Linux installation. Best run was 24 minutes. Funnily enough, I seem to have been blacklisted since then......

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Always a good windup when you pretend goss ignorance and lead them on unable to do what they want until finally identifying your box as a Linux installation.

        I had thought of a whole "Billy-Bob Hicktown" routine to pull on a scammer, but never got one to call while I still remembered it. Of course, to make it really fun I would have had to record it too and post it along with the other "harass the scammer" clips.

      2. Brad Ackerman
        Thumb Up

        Funnily enough, I seem to have been blacklisted since then......

        So mission accomplished.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      You, sir, are to be commended for wasting the time of ne'er-do-wells :)

      Keep it up, and keep us informed of your successes! :)

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Holmes

        I was working from home a lot and it provided a pleasant way of prevaricating (amused that someone feels this line is to be downvoted :)

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

          I was working from home a lot and it provided a pleasant way of prevaricating (amused that someone feels this line is to be downvoted :)

          I guess the downvote for this is because even scammers have to get their tech news from somewhere!

        2. LochNessMonster

          "I was working from home a lot and it provided a pleasant way of prevaricating[...]"

          It's also much more fun on a wet day-off than daytime tv.

          There's nothing like the words "Hello, this is Microsoft Windows Technical Support...." to get the creative juices flowing. I kept one @$$h@t occupied for over 30mins by pretending to be 80yrs old and in a care home with shared internet access. My boredom threshold eventually exceeded his patience, and I called him out. And yes, it was I who was accused of "time-wasting", as well as being involved in several dubious family-related sexual activities. :-)

  8. MortimerTheCat

    Why 10 people?

    I was bemused by the sentence "the crooks would only need to convince ten people". Where did this random figure come from? Why not just convince a single person to get $10,000 - that would be worthwhile. Alternatively, go for hundred and get a cool million. Is $100,000 the current budget target for a scam in these economic times?

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Christoph

    "the unsettling implication in all of this is that some of the people who would be inclined to pay this extortion demand would be people that had in fact been viewing child abuse images."

    The real nasty is that some of the people who receive this may assume that someone else in the same household such as their husband or son has been viewing child abuse images.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Exactly, I just beat the hell out of my son, then my wife and I got into it, she then accused me, we ended up calling the cops, they arrested me (rightfully so, sorry son). The next day I lost my job and my wife filed for divorce. And it turned out to be a hoax email. Guess I'll be jumping off a bridge tonight...

      never mind, forgot I live alone...

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Just with the fuss over facial recognition people always assume that the misapplication of technology only applies to other people (because they're good people). I've never been happy with criminalizing the possession of imagery because of two reasons -- one is that its all to easy to plant this stuff on people (and there's no defense if you're accused), the other being that its just a class of information and if you can outlaw and criminalize the possession of one class of information then you can do it to any class of information.

      But then I suppose that nobody assumes that anything bad will ever happen to them because they're good people. As for this scam itself, its got to fish for people with something guilty in their background or its just a rather poor copy of a popular Social Security scam that's doing the rounds in the US at the moment.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        As for this scam itself, its got to fish for people with something guilty in their background

        There are places where even the briefest hint of an accusation is quite ruinous. My mother taught me once that in our community someone saying "I think he's too good with kids" was enough to end a male teacher's career (no one batted an eyelid at the male teacher who used to swim with the kids and change in our changing room vs the other male teachers who would not even enter the changing rooms, but question why a good teacher would opt to be part of a weekend field trip and it was 'goodbye great education, hello temp replacement' :( )

        Although the hysteria has died down, I do remember cases where your own family pictures, even completely innocent ones (eg your kids in swimwear at the beach) could get you in trouble.

  11. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

    Its another variation

    on the we have been videoing you looking at pr*n send bitcoin so we don't prosecute/send to all your contacts extortion .

    I am sure this type of scam will go through a wide variety of variants from the we (insert authoritative sounding organisation here) know what you did as a student, to your use of unlicensed music/software, to we have been spying on you via your phone for weeks, to we are watching you through the window now... It will always work on a few people as you probably only need one or two to fall for it to break even on your criminal costs.

    Upsetting to some, but not very original..

    1. Martin Summers

      Re: Its another variation

      It was quite an eye opener at work with the calls to support we got from people worried the scammers could actually have seen them doing naughty things via their web cam.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge

        Re: Its another variation

        It was quite an eye opener at work with the calls to support we got from people worried the scammers could actually have seen them doing naughty things via their web cam.

        There were scams that took pics of you from the web cam. I recall reading of something a long time back that could independently turn the camera LED on or off - never made sense to me to have the LED as a separate device (like, it would be obvious someone would turn the thing off while the camera was on if they could figure out how - either the Joe Quagmire type of person or the 'at home in mom's sleepout because I stink up the house too much' remote perv. (To me, it would've made sense to hardwire the LED across the power for the camera - that way if the camera was turned ON the LED must therefore also be on, and no software could disable it)

        The thing I often find funny is the people who have a huge hangup about people watching/spying etc, and yet they have IOT cameras throughout their house that they can access remotely 'coz itz moar secuah!1!!' - which you can find easily with knowledge of their IP address or a good IOT search engine.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bonus...

    Plus, they get to blackmail the person some more, since they know he's a pedophile scared of getting caught!

  13. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      That wasn't the CIA, everyone knows that it is secretly the Milk Marketing Board that controls the lizard people....

  14. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge
    Big Brother

    Maybe this really is the CIA

    And the $10k demands are just cover for "solicitations" sent to potential assets.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe this really is the CIA

      Nah.. the scammers blew it. It wouldn't be the CIA but the FBI. Or maybe (paranoid hat on) it is the FBI hoping the CIA gets blamed for this?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe this really is the CIA

        It would need to be the CIA - because I am neither an american citizen or resident, so all the emails claiming to be from the FBI are automatically identified as spam - as are any from other american government bodies, or banks, or companies...

        The fact that it is an unsolicited email demanding payment is another 100% indicator, plus claiming records of activities with which I have no involvement although that wouldn't deter the real CIA.

        People like you and me are not the target of this, but the mechanics of spamming will result in us being subjected to it - and the funny thing is when you get the same phishing email multiple times from different sources.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Maybe this really is the CIA

          It would need to be the CIA - because I am neither an american citizen or resident, so all the emails claiming to be from the FBI are automatically identified as spam - as are any from other american government bodies, or banks, or companies...

          Don't be to sure on that. Citizen of NZ or probably UK, and perhaps many other countries (should I use an 'o' in that word?) - the FIB can be 'directly assisting' in police raids over civil matters that aren't even a criminal offence in the US let alone in your home country - just ask Kim Doctom.

          As to 'unsolicited' - if you were up to no good would you actually be soliciting contacts from the CIA.FBI/LEO just on the offchance they could intervene on your behalf? (yes I know a lot of groups do, but talking about most individuals who're engaged in nefarious nocturnal activities)

  15. Kiwi Silver badge

    Scamming aside, the unsettling implication in all of this is that some of the people who would be inclined to pay this extortion demand would be people that had in fact been viewing child abuse images. In that case, it is scammers looking to get money from rapists, and nobody comes out looking good.

    Back when I was working frontline repair, we had a mother bring a machine in for us to look at. Her 12yo son had received one of those FBI scams (the one where it changed winlogon or something else to the virus's program, took a photo of you with the webcam and told you the FBI were investigating you).

    The son himself was too distraught to come in, absolutely fearful that he was in serious trouble and would not have had a hope of defending himself - after all the FBI had his photograph and were telling him they had enough evidence to put him in prison for a long time unless he paid the "fine" of however much it was.

    These are among the people the scammers target - those who are innocent but naive enough to not know a better way to deal with it (or those who've known people who've been innocent but lives ruined by the accusation, or live in NZ and know the corruption that infests our 'justice system'....). And with the wide-range of stuff that years ago was quite innocent but today would get you 20 years - ever taken pics of your kids in the bath? Or seen pics of another person's kids in the bath? Hell, in some places - ever seen a picture of a fully-clothed child?

    A lot of naive people will be caught out as well, although hopefully by the time they work out how to pay in bitcoin they'll have learned the truth. And if Oprah is to be believed, the scammers will catch the eye of some paedo ring with deep pockets and hitmen all over the world and will be dealt with, or if that other fella is to be believed our paedo lizard overlords will take care of them, perhaps inviting them round for lunch.

    In our case, we cleaned the machine, gave the mother a quick look around the place (another 4 or 5 machines in with the same infection), gave her some material (perhaps a link to an El Reg article at the time) and sent her home to reassure her boy that he had nothing to fear. It was a trivial infection to clear up requiring the opening of a certain registry key, correcting the winlogon (or explorer or shell or whatever the entry was), removing the file that pointed to, and removing the initial infection source (often a "invoice.docx.exe" type of file - because stopping at the first name extension and using that to determine file type for the icon was always a safe and wise security move! Thanks for the cleanup $$$$$$ MS!

    I did wonder if the kid perhaps had an excessively-affectionate uncle, or had sent dicpics to a girlfriend or friend, or just been rooting around his mate's bedroom for some entertainment. He did seem like he was kinda guilty over something, given how scared and upset he was. But he could also have watched too much TV or known someone innocent who wound up in the system.

  16. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The reason this works so well

    Is that there HAVE been multiple documented cases(*) of corrupt FBI and CIA agents prosecuted for various crimes including stealing evidence (large quantities of bitcoin come to mind) and blackmail, so anyone who's doubting that this might happen will be confronted with evidence to that effect if they start searching for it.

    You don't need to be guilty in such a case, the accusation coming from a real agency would be enough to be devastating.

    (*) In all such cases the agents had been getting away with it for a while too.

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