Bitcoin Blackmail: How It Works
The increased popularity of Bitcoin in the last few years also generated a full range of cryptocurrency related scams. The newest one is targeting married people with the intention of extorting money using an ingenious approach. How does it work?
Watch the video below to see the Bitcoin Blackmail Scam exposed by the Princeton Police Department or read on:
In the last few weeks, crooks have begun sending personalized letters via regular mail (snail mail), threatening to tell the recipient’s spouse about an alleged extramarital affair unless he or she pays thousands of dollars in Bitcoin.
While the snail mail might look like an obsolete method for scammers to search for victims, it is extremely profitable in this case adding a lot of credibility, mainly since the letters use the recipient’s real name. In a statistic published by National Public Radio it is mentioned that 1 in 5 people cheat on their partners, so chances that scammers find unfaithful companions willing to pay after getting the letters are good: 20%.
Here is the thing about this scam: Bitcoin’s use in extortion schemes has been well-documented, mainly because transactions are uncensorable and pseudonymous.
What does the actual letter say?
The message starts with something like this: “You don’t know me personally and nobody hired me to look into you. Nor did I go out looking to burn you. It is just your bad luck that I stumbled across your misadventures while working on a job around the city,” the text says.
The letter threatens that the fake ‘private eye’ will inform the recipient’s spouse about the affair unless they send a sum of bitcoin. The numbers of the people reporting the scam range from $3,500 to $8,000.
Here is the rest of the scammer’s letter: “Let me tell you what will happen if you choose this path [ignore the letter]. I will take this evidence and send it to your wife. And as insurance against you intercepting it before your wife gets it, I will also send copies to her friends and family. So, [first name], even if you decide to come clean with your wife, it won’t protect her from the humiliation she will feel when her friends and family find out your sordid details from me,” the letter warns. “I’m not looking to break your bank,” the author adds. “I just want to be compensated for the time I put into investigating you.”
This scam reminds us of a similar one that occurred in 2015 following the hack of Ashley Madison which led to the leak of the site’s user database.
The Bitcoin scheme appears indiscriminate, as many people have reported receiving the letter despite remaining faithful to their partners, while the author has failed to follow through on the threat to expose the alleged affair.
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