The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is attempting to combat bitcoin blackmail scams by offering consumers advice through its website.
In an article published on August 21, the FTC Division of Consumer and Business Education posted a sample quote from a typical BTC blackmail scam:
“I know about the secret you are keeping from your wife and everyone else. You can ignore this letter, or pay me an $8600 confidentiality fee in Bitcoin.”
Distinctly, the example doesn’t define the character of the “secret”, which is a familiar tactic applied by scammers who use sweeping generalizations in the hopes that someone’s guilty conscience will get the better of them and cause them to panic and pay up, unaware that the scammer has just sent out hundreds or thousands of such emails indiscriminately.
The FTC post deals particularly with a scam involving men of unfaithfulness, summoning warnings, powerful tactics, and threatening as typical symptoms of a scam and urging vigilance. A linked post called ten things you can do to prevent fraud deals with advice from the FTC on the matter.
The government organization advises consumers to avoid sending personal information to strangers making unexpected requests, something increasingly difficult to do in the modern age. Further advice is to conduct online searches of any suspect organizations including the words “scam” or “review” in the search engine to see if other people have complained about the group asking for information.
Giving upfront for agreed reward is further a standard error to give it a scam, as well as placing a check which may later bounce and leave the victim liable. The FTC warns people that caller IDs can be tricked these days and advises that people simply hang up on phone calls including a pre-recorded sales pitch. Free trial offers are often scams aimed at gathering credit card details, and the method of payment is also telling: methods that offer the victim no recourse in terms of a refund are often used by scammers.
Finally, the FTC encourages people to speak to someone they trust before sending money to strangers and to sign up for the free scam alerts email service the organization offers to help prevent duplicity.