Blackmailers trade nude pics like baseball cards on the 'dark web'

Trading revenge porn like baseball cards
Trading revenge porn like baseball cards

In one of the darkest corners of the web, a young girl in glasses, nude, cries in front of her webcam. Onlookers peer into what appears to be her bedroom while she is forced by a hacker to touch herself.

According to the site, she's being blackmailed. "This white girl is blackmailed to take off her clothes on webcam," a caption reads. "She refuses in the beginning but after a while, she has no choice."

The website runs similar videos of several other women. It's hard to trace the location of the website -- it's only accessible on the dark web, an unregulated corner of the Internet where people can buy everything from drugs to hacking tools. Payments are made using bitcoin.

Hackers are breaking into webcams and emails and social networks to gain access to intimate images. They then threaten to make the images public, and share them with the victim's friends and family, if she does not comply.

A federal law enforcement official who asked not to be named said these sites mostly target younger women.

"They know they're easy to extort," he told CNNMoney. "[They] catch them in a provocative photo and say they're going to send this to all your friends if you don't do x, y, z."

This type of harassment was virtually unknown until it happened to Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf, in 2013.

Wolf, along with more than a hundred other women, had their webcams hacked and private moments recorded. The culprit was a 19-year-old computer science student who demanded the women send more nude photos or perform for him via webcam. He threatened to post the photos if the women didn't comply.

There are plenty of sites on the open web devoted to revenge porn -- often times a bitter ex will post private photos after a breakup. But dig a little deeper, and it gets even worse.

"They're forced or exploited into doing horrible things to themselves while being videotaped," security researcher Chris Hadnagy told CNNMoney.

According to Hadnagy, there are now growing markets for this type of content.

Hadnagy says it costs just a few dollars to buy malware, disguise it, and target a victim via email. If a victim clicks on the attachment, it gives the hacker remote access to the computer. The hacker would then be able to turn on a webcam and record.

On the dark web, sites advertise "rent-a-hacker" services, featuring hackers willing to carry out any type of attack. One particular ad boasts, "I'll do anything for money...if you want me to destroy someone's business or personal life, I'll do it." The prices range from 200 to 500 euros, depending on the type of hacking job. There's even 24/7 hour customer support.

Hadnagy says the stolen nudes are traded like baseball cards on the dark web.

On one site, users are offered a pack of nudes, which contains 810 videos for 0.21 bitcoin, or $55. Users can also receive them for free by uploading their own "revenge blackmail" videos.

The federal law official said his agency has worked on some of these cases but that the dark web is a difficult nut to crack.

His advice: Think twice before opening unfamiliar emails.

"These guys only infect your computer by human error," he said. "They can't walk in and install. You have to open an attachment and click on a link that's affected."

Revenge Porn: The Cyberwar Against Women

Revenge porn victim: My naked photos were everywhere

Revenge porn hacker: 'Scary how quickly I would drop my morals'

To fight revenge porn, I had to copyright my breasts

The angels of revenge porn

Reddit: We won't tolerate revenge porn - and neither should you

Mortgage & Savings