The Save Yourself email scam refers to malicious emails that try to extort victims of money. These emails are sent to people with a password that they have used at some point. They also claim to have an intimate video of the victim. The Save Yourself emails then threaten to share that video with the victim’s contacts if the victim doesn’t send the scammer money.
In most cases, Save Yourself is based on old and outdated data breaches. There is never any video of the victim and the usual advice for those who got Save Yourself emails is to ignore them.
Save Yourself Emails quicklinks
- How Save Yourself works
- Do the scammers know your password?
- How to protect your password
- Is this a real threat?
- How to stop Save Yourself scam emails
- Automatic Malware removal tools
In short about the Save Yourself scam:
|The threat||Scammers have an old password of yours and an email address,
your email account is being spammed with unwanted messages.
|How Save Yourself scam work||Scammers use data from leaked databases to send scary messages to all the email addresses they have,
they ask victims to send hundreds of dollars worth of Bitcoin.
|How to protect yourself||Remove malware with a security program (Spyhunter for PC, Combo Cleaner for Mac, etc.),
remove unnecessary browser extensions,
use strong passwords or a password manager,
use multi-step verification.
|How to stop the emails||Tag the emails as spam,
block the sender of Save Yourself.
How Save Yourself works
Save Yourself emails come to your inbox with threats to expose your intimate videos to your friends and family if you don’t pay money to the extortionist:
I made a video showing how you satisfy yourself in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched. With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks. I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.
The emails may also threaten you to not share the email or report it. They might talk about a timer ticking down or a limit of a few hours or days for you to make the payment.
Save Yourself emails often threaten that your computer was infected while you were on an adult video site or on an infected website. They may use descriptions of real threats, like exploit kits. But they never provide any proof that they have any video of you or any of your files. That’s because they can’t – they don’t have any.
Save Yourself emails sometimes look strange: they might come as images, written in languages foreign to you, or written using strange characters. This is done to avoid the scam emails being sent directly to spam. Sextortion emails are nothing new, so email providers learn quickly to send them to your spam folder. The same goes for Holiday greeting scams, survey scams, various coupons, trials, rewards, etc.
If you got or more Save Yourself emails in your inbox, do not pay the ransom. It’s an extortion scam that’s mass-distributed to thousands of people.
Do the scammers know your password?
Sometimes, the Save Yourself emails include a password that you have used at some point to secure an online account. This password may be included in the subject line or in the email’s body. This is supposed to prove that the scammer infected your computer with a keylogger or another spyware program. Spyware can be used to steal your usernames and passwords, so this is a pretty concerning threat.
However, it’s fake. The password in the email comes from a data breach.
If you go to HaveIBeenPwned.com, you can see in how many data breaches your email shows up (and the listed breaches are just the known ones). A scammer downloaded or bought the leaked database and started going through the list, sending the exact same email, only changing the password in it.
The scammer may spoof your own or someone else's address when they send you the Save Yourself email, but don’t be intimidated, it doesn’t need scammers to have hacked your account. Here’s how they might say that:
As you may have noticed, I sent you an email from your account. This means that I have full access to your account.
Some people report that the password they got in a Save Yourself email is very old and not used anymore, which further shows that scammers are using data breaches to scare people. They may also have your birth date and some other data, but that’s about it.
How to protect your password
- Scan your computer for malware and remove spyware if any is found. Avoid installing browser extensions that can read your data on every site.
- Regularly set new passwords for your most important accounts.
- Use 2-step verification to get warnings if someone tries to log in to your account.
- Don’t reuse the same or similar password for multiple accounts.
- Use a password manager.
The Save Yourself scan relies on websites and apps not being secured well enough. I mean, how does a password even leak?
Usually, passwords are not exposed in data breaches because they are encrypted. It’s why if you forget your password, you have to change it – the site doesn’t know your password, they only have a hashed product, which looks like a random string of letters and numbers.
But not all services and sites have security standards, so some of them put your data in danger by storing it in plain text. Even a new password could be affected thanks to companies mishandling people’s data.
So, yes, the scammers know the password that they sent you. But that’s about it. To fix that, just change the password on that account after making sure there’s no malware on your computer.
Is this a real threat?
Some people still have doubts about the Save Yourself scam, or at least their version of it. Could the scammer have genuinely got some of your data? There are real spyware viruses out there, after all. And a few victims of the Save Yourself scam reported that there was malware on their computer. However, if a scammer actually has any of the stuff they claim to have, they will provide proof. Without sufficient proof, do not throw your money away and do not contact the scammers. Also, do not reveal any information on yourself to the scammers. They might not even know if your email is still active, and even that tidbit is valuable info.
It would be good to proactively improve your security by making sure your passwords are strong, you have 2-step verification on, and a strong antivirus program protecting your computer. Still, don’t give in to the scare tactics. Scammers will say anything to get you to pay and they have no honor or sympathy.
If you suddenly get a huge flood of spam emails, Save Yourself being only one of many different attacks, you may be a victim of email bombing – a tactic used to hide from you important emails. In this case, use a secure and clean device to check your bank account and any accounts that have your payment information saved. Check them for orders that you didn’t make and consider deleting your payment data temporarily so that hackers can’t use it.
How to stop Save Yourself scam emails
Besides securing your accounts with a better password and multi-step verification, it is also a good idea to scan your device for malware with a security program, such as Spyhunter for PC, Combo Cleaner for Mac, and others. Uninstall suspicious programs and disable or remove browser extensions that have intrusive permissions.
But this won’t stop the annoying emails that may come periodically. Blocking emails is different on different platforms, but making sure to tag each Save Yourself email as spam is universally important. It’ll help your email provider recognize these messages as spam and throw them away before you or other people fall for the scam.
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