When it comes to scams on the Blockchain, we have seen them all. From ridiculous money making schemes to subtle phishing attacks, fraudsters have found ways to get their hands on your hard earned Bitcoin.
However, there is something that is taking even more prominence nowadays, and that is the threat of physical violence, even murder.
This is the latest scam that has been making the rounds is an email threat from a supposed “hitman” who is asking for Bitcoin to stop a hit on your life. This was first reported by a victim in California who received the alarming email.
The threat was enough to even catch the attention of the FBI as they warned people about the potential scam.
“An Order to Kill You”
The women, who only gave her name as Christiane, said that she received the threatening email from someone. He claimed that he had an order to kill her and that the only way she could get out of it was to send him $2,800 in Bitcoin.
This would no doubt alarm a large number of people as it would make them constantly on edge as they went about their daily life. Indeed, Christiane said that
I knew no one was tracking me. But I found myself as I was on my way to work looking around. Are any cars following me? Does anyone look suspicious?
She was alarmed enough about the experience to go over to the FBI fraud reporting website. According to Laura Eimiller, an FBI agent, they receive about 800 complaints a day with this particular fraud. This represents a sizable 15% of all fraud reports.
What is even more alarming though is that fact that this number may indeed underrepresent the total number of frauds related to this. There are many people who will merely delete the email and move on with their lives.
However, there may be a relatively minor percentage of the victims who will legitimately fear for their lives and send the scammer the required Bitcoin. Given how widespread the scam is, even one percent return could be enough for the scammer.
This is why the scam is no doubt being used. They can throw their net wide, hoping that the email will land in the inbox of a few really vulnerable individuals. Once it does, they have already made a return on their investment.
Moreover, unlike other Email scams of yesteryear that talk of Nigerian princes, this scam is a lot more serious. According to the FBI, even well-educated and informed people have fell victim. These are not the types of emails that people generally gloss over.
A Familiar Trend
Although this is the first time that we are seeing examples of cyber murder threats being sent via email, there are quite a few examples already of physical violence harm.
For example, just a week ago it was reported that a Russian couple in Thailand had Bitcoin stolen by intruders. They locked them up and demanded that he send them the Bitcoin or else they would harm him and his wife.
Similarly, in New York last year a man was kidnapped and threatened with his life by gunpoint. In the end, the kidnappers managed to extort $1.8m in Ethereum which is no doubt quite a sizable haul for a burglary.
Keep Safe On and Off-Line
What this shows is that it is really important that you keep safe both on the web and off it. If there are criminals who know that you have a lot of cryptocurrency holdings, then they are more than likely to make you a target.
Moreover, if you receive threatening emails then your best port of call is to alert the authorities. If the FBI know about the scam, then they can actively work to thwart it. They can also use advanced tracking techniques to locate the scammer.
One can only hope that the FBI is already on this case and that they will find the perpetrators in due course.
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