Our office has recently received complaints from individuals who were the targets of an email extortion scheme. In this scam, the email recipient is accused of visiting pornographic websites, cheating on a spouse, or being involved in other compromising situations.
The email generally includes a statement such as, "I had a serious spyware and adware infect your computer," or "I have a recorded video of you" as an explanation of how the information was allegedly gathered. The email threatens to release sexually explicit photos or personally compromising videos to family, friends, coworkers, or social network contacts if a ransom is not paid within a short amount of time. The recipient is instructed to pay the ransom in Bitcoin, a virtual currency that provides a high degree of anonymity to the transactions. The extortion email often includes the recipient’s personal information in order to intimidate the recipient and coerce them to comply.
If you believe you have been a victim of this scam, you should file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Please include the keyword “Extortion Email Scheme” in your complaint, and provide any relevant information, including the extortion email with header information and Bitcoin address if available. Find more information about how to protect yourself from this scam on the FBI website.