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Yesterday I received an extortion letter at home (here is a copy) threatening to release information to my wife if I didn’t send immediately 3650 in bitcoin. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this. It was startling the information they referenced. I wondered how did this anonymous letter writer have information on me and my family, our property, etc..? If you haven’t received this letter you might shortly. I did more research and it looks like this scam started on the east coast and is beginning to explode as it has gone westward.
See full size of extortion letter: property owner bitcoin extortion letter
How could someone get this information so easily? I can’t say for certain, but this information is easily attainable. The letter’s information is all readily available from most assessor’s offices. For example, you could buy this from any thousands of data brokers information on recent purchases done in joint tenancy (husband and wife) of any house over x dollars and then start sending out the letters. Furthermore, all the recent data breaches at Equifax and others would have this same information that has now been sliced and diced and sold to various criminal enterprises.
Why property owners? Statistically property owners have more financial means and therefore more ability to pay a “small” sum to make a problem go away. Property owners will continue to be targets since so much information is already available about them and their property. Think of the information you gave to your bank when you got a loan. This information is sitting in some system that has been transferred many times as your loan is bought and sold. I’m certain somewhere along the line this information has been compromised. For example, Well’s Fargo last summer released data on thousands of wealthy clients.
Why is this different now? Bitcoin has changed the game for criminals. Instead of having someone send money to a PO box in Canada that could be traced. They can request you send via bitcoin which is currently untraceable by law enforcement. This has given rise to a new round of extortion attempts. This letter is just the beginning of what could be come.
What should you do? Unfortunately, with all the data breaches and a quick Google search it is easy to get quite a bit of information on you. To protect myself, I went ahead and put a lock on my credit to ensure no criminal masterminds could go this route with identity theft (here is a guide I developed on how to lock your credit). Also, I only give out my social security number on a need to know basis. For example, the dentist doesn’t need my social if I am paying in cash. Other than locking your credit and safeguarding your information, you can do the basic common-sense items like not paying the bitcoin, using good passwords, not clicking on e-mails saying you won a million dollars, etc…
This is just the beginning. With all of the security breaches, the amount of information floating around on basically everyone is staggering. The cryptocurrency emergence has added another layer to allow these crimes to perpetuate. This is the future of crime. Unfortunately, I’m not confident our federal (or local) governments will do much to solve this issue since they are still trying to figure out how many major politicians e-mails were hacked.
Awareness about these scams is critical so please share/forward on. Don’t worry you can still win the lottery if you do not forward to 12 people 😊
I need your help!
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to wire money to your long lost cousin that is going to give you a million dollars if you just send them your bank account! I do need your help though, please like and share our articles it would be greatly appreciated.
Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending. Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in the Colorado Real Estate Journal, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.
Fairview is a hard money lender specializing in private money loans / non-bank real estate loans in Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, and Florida. They are recognized in the industry as the leader in hard money lending with no upfront fees or any other games. Learn more about Hard Money Lending through our free Hard Money Guide. To get started on a loan all they need is their simple one page application (no upfront fees or other games).