How much would you pay to keep a secret quiet?
U.S. Postal Inspector Kyle Parker warns a national wave of fake extortion letters hit Memphis last week.
This time the crooks reached out through snail mail, demanding you pay with Bitcoins to keep your “secret safe.”
Parker said this scam has different layers to it.
Criminals have taken advantage of “mailers,” people who maybe signed up for a work from home job online. In turn, they end up doing the dirty work unwittingly and send the letters to another set of victims.
Phony letters mailed from Memphis are post marked May 11. Parker said there are hundreds of them out there.
“The fact that the letters are mailed and have a physical stamp on it show some sort of investment, some sort of legitimacy to the letter, because of that we do believe some victims have paid,” said Kyle Parker, U.S. Postal Inspector.
Bitcoin is a digital currency that is attracting bad guys.
“Bitcoin’s a very fluid currency. It’s constantly changing. The fact that it’s got the anonymous tag to it,” said Parker.
The envelopes include a 2-paged extortion letter. The writer claims to have evidence of what you have been hiding, but shares no specifics.
They demand you pay a “confidentiality fee.” One letter provided by Parker demanded $8,900.
Then there are another two pages with instructions on how to make the payment.
Parker said letters have been mostly sent to middle and high income homes, targeting people who probably have some level of authority and can’t afford bad publicity whether they actually have something to hide or not.
With countless letters out there, Parker is urging people who paid the demand to come forward.
“Each letter has a unique Bitcoin address to send that payment to. So because of that if somebody called anonymously didn’t give their name, but gave a Bitcoin address of the where they sent the money to, that helps us in our investigation be able to track it potentially and trace it back to the bad guy,” said Parker.
Investigators believe victim information was obtained through a hack. At this point they do not have reason to believe personal information such as birth dates and social security numbers were compromised.
The extortion letter also threatens to release their evidence if a payment is not made within 10 days.
Parker said they have not received reports there has been a follow through to threats made in the letter.
If you had any interaction with these letters you can anonymously help investigators.
Call National Law Enforcement at (877) 876-2455.