This new wave of e-mail extortion began at the beginning of the week, according to Don Jackson, a researcher at SecureWorks. The e-mails have an air of legitimacy because they come from valid e-mail accounts, instead of spoofed "from" addresses.
And if that isn't enough to worry the people being extorted, if they reply to the e-mails, the scammer actually responds with personal information about the victim, according to SecureWorks.
"It is most likely that this personal information is being obtained via phishing e-mails, sites that sell personal information, which has been harvested by malware, etc.," said Jackson in an e-mail to InformationWeek.
He estimated that SecureWorks saw about 1,000 of these e-mails go out as of Wednesday at noon.