The U.S Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Division of Consumer and Business Education has issued a warning to consumers about a new type of Bitcoin Fraud that attempts to blackmail people. This was revealed in a publication by the agency on August 21 which is titled; “How to avoid a Bitcoin blackmail scam.”
Apparently, some workers of the elusive world have allegedly been sending blackmail letters to expose a supposed secret and asking for a “confidential fee” paid through Virtual currencies (especially Bitcoin), this is according to Christiana Miranda who is a member of the FCT’s Division of Consumer and Business Education. One of the letters stated:
“I know about the secret you are keeping from your wife and everyone else. You can choose to ignore this letter, or pay me a 8,600 confidentiality fee in bitcoin”
The letter has been reported to contain instructions on how victims (especially those who do not have requisite knowledge on how cryptocurrencies) can make these payments.
The Federal Trade Commission’s letter is consumer protection-driven, and the agency describes it as “new scam targeting men,” warning about blackmailing frauds demanding payments in Bitcoin (BTC). The letter states that:
“Here’s how it works. Scammers have been sending letters to men, demanding payments using Bitcoin in exchange for keeping quiet about alleged affairs. The letter also explains how to use Bitcoin to make the payment.”
While the agency claimed that this FTC is specifically targeted at men, a handful of comments suggests that women are also being targeted as a woman with the username Hana stated that “I am a female and have also received a similar threat” she went further to state that:
“The email had somehow confiscated one my passwords and threated to use pictures, etc. to make pornographic videos and posters using my face. They also demanded that I pay thousands of dollars in Bitcoin.”
Curbing Cyber Fraud
This doesn’t seem to be the first time cryptocurrency related cyber blackmail scam will occur as it has been reported previously, and the agency has taken several measures to sensitize the public such as; hosting workshops on cryptocurrency scams and also several publications on the subject matter.
The FTC has listed “threats, intimidation and high-pressure tactics” amongst “classic signs” of blackmailing and the agency lists and advises consumers to “report it immediately to your local police, and the FBI.”
Earlier this month the UK law enforcement published a report saying that crypto-related scams have cost investor about $2.55 million this summer alone. Also, Kaspersky Labs, a cybersecurity firm, recently released a report according to which cyber criminals stole over $2.3 million via crypto scams during the second quarter of 2018 alone.