From staff and wire reports
Santa Clara County prosecutors are warning residents of a blackmail scheme that aims to collect money in the form of Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that is difficult to track.
Residents have received letters that claim the recipient is hiding something from their wives and must pay the sender to avoid having their secret revealed.
The allegations may be vague, and include statements such as, “I’m going to cut to the chase. I know you cheated on your wife.”
Prosecutors said the letters target people with guilty consciences, or innocent individuals that do not want embarrassing allegations made public.
The letter warns that if the demand for money isn’t met, “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, (insert name of recipient here), even if you decide to come clean with your wife about your cheating, doing so won’t protect her from the humiliation she will feel when her friends and family find out the sordid details from me.”
Later in the letter it says, “At this point you may be thinking, ‘This is blackmail! I’ll just go to the cops’ Yes, this is blackmail. And yes, blackmail is illegal and I would likely do some jail time if caught. Which is why I have taken steps to ensure this letter cannot be traced back to me.”
The letter one Post reader received had a Louisville, Ky., postmark and no return address.
The amounts sought range from $2,000 to $9,400.
The scammers will cast a wide net, but likely do not know anything about the victim, according to prosecutors, and the best course of action is to ignore the letters and contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at (877) 876-2455.
Prosecutors said the threats will likely not stop even if payments are made, and scammers may demand additional large amounts of money.
Victims of the scam can also contact police or the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Consumer Mediation Services at (408) 792-2880.