Online scam claims to know your (old) password

WASHINGTON — Police are warning people about a new email scam more plausible than a message sent by a supposed Nigerian prince.

The latest scam uses a person’s old password as proof that their online data was hacked, a release from the Prince William County Police Department said. Then, the scammers demand money from the user.

In addition to the passwords, the emailer claims to have a video of the person visiting a pornographic website, police said. The scammer then threatens to post the footage online unless the person sends money, usually through some address connected to bitcoin.


Police said it’s likely that those behind the scam got old passwords when someone hacked a popular, though unspecified, website more than a decade ago. The scammer is targeting users of that hacked website by sending the message to email addresses associated with the stolen password.

Because the hack happened so long ago, odds are the password is no longer used.

Police are encouraging people getting these suspicious emails to not respond or send money, and report the scammers.

Users can file online reports at or call 703-792-6500.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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