Some blackmail attempts against victims of the ongoing Ashley Madison saga resulted in several – albeit modest – pay outs, according to new research.
Extortionists seized on the data dump of the cheaters’ website database last month with demands to pay up, or risk having their friends and family told about their dalliances, as previously reported.
An unknown group or individuals (probably unrelated to the self-styled Impact Team who pulled off the hack) sent extortion emails demanding Bitcoin for silence.
Toshiro Nishimura, research analyst at spam filtering firm Cloudmark, began investigating whether any payments had actually been made by looking at signs on the Bitcoin blockchain.
He first determined that a sample of Bitcoin addresses used to send extortionate demands were all freshly minted. This is an unsurprisingly discovery by itself but it did mean that some potential avenues of further inquiry were blocked off.
All the scam emails consistently demanded “exactly 1.05” BTC from their victims, so Nishimura searched the blockchain for transactions paying exactly that amount to infer if such extortion demands were being paid.
He found 67 suspicious transactions totalling 70.35 BTC or approximately $15,814 within the extortion time frame of approximately four days. Each transaction involved a payment of 1.05