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10:15 PM Sun, Oct. 21st

Bitcoin fraud scam hits Yavapai County, sheriff says

Residents encouraged to warn family, friends

(Courier stock photo)

(Courier stock photo)

In the past few weeks, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) has received several calls regarding a scam extorting ‘bitcoin’ (a form of cryptocurrency) from victims based on a threat to expose alleged viewing of pornography sites.

Bitcoin essentially is a digital or virtual currency that uses peer-to-peer technology to facilitate instant payments.

It operates outside of any formal banking structure and transactions generally cannot be traced. Bitcoin can be exchanged for traditional currencies.

photo

(Courier illustration)

In one case, which typifies a majority of the reports, the victim received an email correctly identifying her computer password.

The email goes on to say that while the victim was on a porn site set up by the suspect, they secretly explored her computer’s contents. The suspect also mentioned using her computer’s camera to record a video of her viewing the porn site and threatened to release it to family and friends on social media.

In order to prevent release of the video, the victim was instructed to obtain $2,200 in bitcoin within 48 hours. The victim had never viewed a porn site and knew this was a scam. No money was lost, but she was concerned about an outsider having her password information.

If correct password information is shared by the cyber suspects, they likely obtained it through database breaches involving legitimate commercial websites.

It is critical to check your computer immediately for malware and change passwords - especially those used to access bank accounts and other services containing personal information.

The emails sent are likely automated, meaning that victims are not specifically targeted, instead suspects are using special programs that draw email addresses, user names and passwords from the stolen data. The extortion letter is then emailed automatically.

This scam has been around for quite a while and has been reported in several countries around the world.

If you are interested in cryptocurrency scam issues, consider reviewing a Federal Trade Commission panel discussion held earlier this year – click here: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/audio-video/video/decrypting-cryptocurrency-scams-opening-remarks-panel-1.

Some valuable information is discussed.

Information provided by the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office