Scammers around the globe are now upping the ante for receiving payments in digital currencies. This time, they are blackmailing men and receiving bitcoin in lieu of keeping quiet about their alleged affairs. The US Federal Trade Commission recently announced this ongoing scam practice.
It explained, “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.”
In the announcement, the FTC even told users about the kind of messages that they may receive from these scammers. Here is one example- “I know about the secret you are keeping from your wife and everyone else. You can ignore this letter or pay me a $8600 confidentiality fee in Bitcoin”. The payments can be made in bitcoin or any other digital currency.
These scammers are using threatening practices and intimidating the users to get what they demand. The payments are almost always made in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as they are anonymous in nature and tracking the receiver of funds is difficult. Whenever a payment is made in digital coins, it is sent to an anonymous address, and one person can have multiple addresses without attaching his real identity to any of these wallets. Scammers are finding it easier and safer to transact in these currencies instead of asking for payments via credit cards or PayPal.
The FTC also informed users about the ways in which they can avoid fraudulent methods used by these scammers and avoid getting sucked into their trap. The agency said that talking to a trustworthy person is a key method of avoiding such blackmail. Scammers use high-pressure to scare their victims into immediately sending them money as a stress reaction. Instead of falling for the scare tactic, the user can “slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.” Seeking help in this way could be more helpful that burning a hole in your pocket. It is often snap decisions bore out of panic that make investors lose money.
Earlier this month, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the UK also issued a warning to investors and asked them to tread crypto waters with caution. According to the FCA, some of these scammers are posing as celebrities and persuading investors to send funds to their respective crypto wallets. The agency said, “Be wary of adverts online and on social media promising high returns on investments in cryptocurrencies or cryptocurrency related products.”
Apart from ICO frauds, which are quite rampant in the cryptocurrency industry, such scams are making headlines amongst investors too. Some of the scammers could even get personal, addressing people by their first name which could scare the victim even more. They could use details available on the public domain to threaten users into submission. However, if one stays watchful, doesn’t click on unknown links and reports the threats to authorities instead of acting on it instantly, safety can be ensured.