The ominous emails begin with: “I’m aware … is your password.”
They claim to have taken over a person’s web cam and captured embarrassing video of the victim – which they will send to all their friends and contacts unless the person sends $2,000 in Bitcoins to them.
Six Kane County residents received those emails in April, but each dodged the scam, according to police reports.
Batavia police had four reports and the Kane County Sheriff had two.
“This information is believed to have been obtained in a recent data breach, according to the Federal Trade Commission,” Watch Commander of Investigations Eric Blowers stated in an email. “Sometimes, the emails contain an old password that the victim utilized many years ago.”
Reports were made to police by Batavia residents of the 900 block Cleveland Avenue on April 16; the 100 block of Davey Drive on April 22; the 900 block of Barclay Court on April 28; and the 0-99 block of Marsh Lane on April 28, according to reports.
“To my knowledge, none of our residents have fallen for this scam and none of our residents have lost any money or had any of their accounts compromised,” Blowers’ email stated.
According to Kane County Sheriff’s reports, that seemed to be the case also.
A resident of the 7N200 block of Falcons Trail, St. Charles Township, reported April 24 to the Kane County Sheriff’s Office that she received an email trying to extort her for $2,000 in Bitcoins or an embarrassing video of her would be released to her contacts.
The woman told deputies she did not respond, nor did she provide anyone with any personal information, but since this occurred, she changed her Facebook password, the report stated.
A resident of the 38W000 block of Pine Road, St. Charles Township, reported on April l27 that she had just finished an online Bible study when she saw the threatening email.
The email stated that he had her password and if she did not purchase $2,000 in Bitcoins and send it to the link provided, he would forward to her friends a video of her viewing and enjoying pornographic websites – something she said she has never done, the report stated.
She said it is a common password and she was worried that he could access her other accounts, the report stated.
The deputy advised her to change her passwords.
According to the Federal Trade Commission website www.consumer.ftc.gov regarding the timing of an apparent spike in Bitcoin blackmail scams stems from a recent data breach where the recipient’s email was exposed.
“Don’t pay anything,” the website states. “Delete the message. It’s a scam. … The scammers may say they have access to your computer or web cam or installed clever software to defeat you. That’s all talk. But they may really know one of your old – or recent –passwords, and they include it in the message to prove it.”
The Federal Trade Commission advises people to update their passwords if they get this Bitcoin message – and update other passwords for other accounts as well.
Anyone who gets a complaint like this is encouraged to report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov/Complaint.
Batavia police also have a link to the Federal Trade Commission website on its Facebook page.