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The email suddenly appears in your inbox. Someone is writing to say that they have access to your cell phone or your computer. And they’re about to make your sensitive videos, pictures, or compromising information public. Pay them money (a ransom), they say, using a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, and they won’t expose the truth.

Have you gotten one of these emails? If so, you’re not alone. The email is a part of a cryptocurrency blackmail scam that’s been popping up for a while. But last month, the FTC saw another uptick in the number of reports of this scam.

We’ve said it before, but it’s always worth repeating. The person behind these emails is a scammer. Don’t pay him. He’s using threats, intimidation, and high pressure tactics to trick you out of your money. And while the scammer may say that he knows about an alleged affair, a video, or something else that could embarrass you if it was made public, it’s all fake. In fact, it’s also a criminal extortion attempt. Which is why it’s really important that you report this type of scam to the FBI, right away. And once you do, remember to tell the FTC, too, at ftc.gov/complaint.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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