My Bitcoin blackmail experience started with a well-written letter

I got a Bitcoin blackmail letter in the mail on Saturday. They did a much better job than those Nigerian prince scams you get by email. Here’s the text of the letter:

JOSHUA BERNOFF
[my address]

Hello Joshua, I’m going to cut to the chase. My name is RedDust~10 and I know about the secret you are keeping from your wife and everyone else. More importantly, I have evidence of what you have been hiding. I won’t go into the specifics here in case your wife intercepts this, but you know what I am talking about.

You don’t know me personally and nobody hired me to look into you. Nor did I go out looking to burn you. It is just your bad luck that I stumbled across your misadventures while working a job around Arlington. I then put in more time than I probably should have looking into your life. Frankly, I am ready to forget all about you and let you get on with your life. And I am going to give you two options that will accomplish that very thing. Those two options are to either ignore this letter, or simply pay me $8,350. Let’s examine those two options in more detail.

Option 1 is to ignore this letter. Let me tell you what will happen if you choose this path. I will take this evidence and send it to your wife. And as insurance against you intercepting it before your wife gets it, I will also send copies to her friends, family and your neighbors on and around Florence Avenue. So, Joshua, even if you decide to come clean with your wife, it won’t protect her from the humiliation she will feel when her friends and family find out your sordid details from me.

Option 2 is to pay me $8,350. We’ll call this my “confidentiality fee”. Now let me tell you what happens if you choose this path. Your secret remains your secret. You go on with your life as though none of this ever happened. Though you may want to do a better job at keeping your misdeeds secret in the future.

At this point you may be thinking, “I’ll just go to the cops.” Which is why I have taken steps to ensure this letter cannot be traced back to me. So that won’t help, and it won’t stop the evidence from destroying your life. I’m not looking to break your bank. I just want to be compensated for the time I put into investigating you.

Let’s assume you have decided to make all this go away and pay me the confidentiality fee. In keeping with my strategy to not go to jail, we will not meet in person and there will be no physical exchange of cash. You will pay me anonymously using bitcoin. If you want me to keep your secret, then send $8,350 in BITCOIN to the Receiving Bitcoin Address listed below. Payment MUST be received within 10 days of the post marked date on this letter’s envelope. If you are not familiar with bitcoin, attached is a “How-To” guide. You will need the below two pieces of information when referencing the guide.

Required Amount: $8,350

Receiving Bitcoin Address:

12SvX77tKEGgGfj4fiHh[additional characters redacted]

Tell no one what you will be using the bitcoin for or they may not give it to you. The procedure to obtain bitcoin can take a day or two so do not put it off. Again, payment must be received within 10 days of this letter’s post marked date. If I don’t receive the bitcoin by the deadline, I will go ahead and release the evidence to everyone. If you go that route, then the least you could do is tell your wife so she can come up with an excuse to prepare her friends and family before they find out. The clock is ticking, Joshua.

As a piece of writing, this is excellent. The opening paragraph immediately captures your interest. The sentences are simple and declarative. Notice that there is no passive voice: the blackmailer uses the pronoun “I” a the subject of the sentences about what he (or she) will do if I don’t pay. It also effectively uses the pronoun “you” to draw the reader in. It’s neither excessively emotional nor excessively pedantic — it’s straightforward and clear.

The instructions on what to do are also clear. The descriptions of Option 1 and Option 2 contrast nicely. And the blackmailer has anticipated what you might call Option 3, contacting the police, and explained the consequences of that. It ignores Option 4, post the letter on your blog, but I suppose the blackmailer didn’t feel that was necessary to explain — perhaps he or she hasn’t researched me as thoroughly as the letter implies.

The text I’ve shown here includes the text on the front and back of the first sheet. There is a second sheet including a clear set of numbered instructions on how to use Bitcoin to transfer money.

What would you do?

I opened this unmarked window envelope quickly since I was expecting to get a check from a client this week. The letter was postmarked in Evanston, Illinois and included a normal first-class stamp.

While I was disappointed not to get the check, this letter was almost as good.

I’m not aware of any secrets that a stranger could reveal to my wife and cause me a problem. I’m afraid while my public life is full of interesting challenges, my private life is pretty happy and boring and certainly free of scandal. So the threat didn’t register with me at all. (Admittedly, I tried for a moment to imagine what a blackmailer might reveal, and couldn’t come up with anything.)

I know enough about Bitcoin to understand how this works: if I followed the instructions, there would be an untraceable transfer of my money to someone else, far easier than dropping cash in a duffel bag somewhere. Bitcoin is a perfect modus vivendi for blackmail.

Unlike email blackmail, though, this letter required somebody to actually fold up and mail a letter, which looked like it had been done by hand. I am guessing that the blackmailers pick a bunch of targets in upper-middle-class suburbs and send out a bunch of these letters. Apparently the price has gone up since Krebs on Security wrote about it January.

The online articles suggested that the police and FBI were interested. I called the police, and a uniformed officer came by and had a look. He said he hadn’t seen a letter like this before. (I had carefully handled the letter and envelope to prevent adding too many of my own fingerprints, but he ignored that, handled the letter with his bare hands, wrote my information on it with a pen, and took it with him to give to a detective.)

Why a well-written letter?

The Nigerian prince email scams tend to be transparently fake. I’ve read that this is intentional — the only people who respond are idiots, who are good marks for the scam.

In this case, I think the blackmailer would prefer a moderately well-educated and affluent victim. People like me are more likely to both have this much money available and to respond to a clear and well-written letter. And we’ve probably heard of Bitcoin.

I wonder if the blackmailers used a copy editor, or have done A/B testing to determine which letters are most effective. I wonder how the amount came to be $8,350, up from $3,600 in the letters sent in January. These elements make me think this is a pretty effectively run operation.

If you are a blackmailer like this, please add a comment on this post to tell me how well your operation is working and who writes your letters.

If you’re not a blackmailer, you can still learn something here. Obviously, don’t respond to letters like this. And don’t be a criminal scammer.

But take a look at how effectively the author uses pronouns, direct and clear language, logic, and easily understood instructions. This letter is an exercise in both persuasion, and in how-to language. It succeeds as both (well, at least if the target is feeling guilty, it might). You could do worse than copying the techniques they use.

Note: blackmailers are now also sending emails with stolen passwords. You can read my analysis of those emails here.

145 responses to “My Bitcoin blackmail experience started with a well-written letter

  1. Thank you for posting the letter but do you really want your home address published for all your ‘followers’ to see?

    1. My home address is not a secret. In fact, it’s on the contact page of my site:

      https://withoutbullshit.com/contact#contact

      Your home address is not a secret, either. I found it with a few minutes of Googling. I even know how much your condo is assessed at this year.

      I won’t publish it, since you seem to be sensitive about the information.

      I am not trying to hide my information, which in any case would be futile.

        1. I received one the end of last week, DC suburb. I guess the blackmailer didn’t realize that in my serious bluestate liberal neighborhood, my so-called “misadventures (no idea) would be applauded. Did nothing about it, of course

      1. I received a form of the letter some months ago. Of greater concern, however, is I am now receiving “return to sender” letters because the scammer(s) are using my address as the return address. I am a corporate attorney in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The letters have a return address of “Creed Law Firm” with my home address. My last name is Creed, but there is no Creed Law Firm at my address and there is no Creed Law Firm with which I am associated. All letters are postmarked “Nashville,” but I have no idea how many were mailed and to whom. I reported this to the FBI but don’t expect any reaction. I can’t imagine anyone falling for something this stupid, but it concerns me nonetheless.

    2. Thanks!! I’m just sensitive to this because many of my students inadvertently post private information. I appreciate your transparency and thoroughly enjoy your blog posts!!

    3. I just received an email giving one of my user names and an old password I stopped using years ago. They claimed to have remoted in to my webcam and have video of me enjoying some porn. I will not say the name they used as it could be unique to me, likewise the bitcoin amount they wanted – but it was under $3000. Local police said to keep the email and call them if I received anything else with more specific information.

          1. I received the same email today also. My wife thought it was well written too.

            I’m not concerned with the potential blackmail video or anything. Nothing to see there because it’s a false claim. What does concern me is that they actually got a valid password that we still had in use for a couple of travel sites.

            What are they going to do with that (book me a vacation)? Better act fast … too late I changed those 2 passwords. Besides, I do not save my credit card info on those sites.

            I’ll wait to see if I get a follow-up email.

        1. My husband received the same letter from Nashville, TN, although his is from RedCircle61 and demands $15,200! Looks like the price is going up …

          1. My husband just received one from RedTruth49. Postmarked Nashville for 15,400 payment in Bitcoin. We are in NJ. Called the local police. They could care less didn’t even take my name

          2. Got same letter from Nashville, it was from RedMeat44. Creepy that someone took time to try and scam me.

          3. My husband received one today also postmarked from Nashville, demanding 14K and change. It included what I assume to be a fake return snailmail name and address — unless a fairly prominent attorney in Knoxville has a rather creative side gig (Google is amazing sometimes)! It included the attorney’s home address. I wouldn’t normally report these things, but I’m concerned that the attorney might be targeted if someone doesn’t realize this is a scam.

        2. I got the same email today. There was my very–very–very old password I used once on Hotels.com Is this the travel site you mentioned?

      1. Nothing happened with the first one that I got on July 14th, but I got ANOTHER one (same wording, same dollar amount, but different name and bitcoin address) today (July 21st)!

    4. I received the same letter on July 10, 2018 from Nashville TN, postmarked July 7, 2018 from “BadPaper86” asking for $8,300.

      If my husband has a secret, oh well, don’t we all? And if BadPaper86 has found one, good for him, and i’m sure my friends, neighbors and family will enjoy the gossip… so go for it BadPaper86… but he/she is not going to receive a single Bitcoin from us. He/she needs to find a real job, like the rest of us and i sincerely hope the Fed’s catch up with them and send them to a very very far away island with nothing but salt water to drink and rattle snakes to catch to eat, or be eaten… i know, that sounds horrible, but wasting my time and others with this crap is about as far fetched as my wish they get caught.

      1. My husband received the same letter today , which of course I opened. I laughed for 15 minutes… his price was $15,450. We are in Minnesota, obviously rolling in cash here in the North and obviously doing bad things!! We have gotten a lot of enjoyment tonight drinking wine and reading this and hoping my friends, family and neighbors get some spicy news about us. This letter makes my husband seem way more interesting than he actually is! He agrees.

        1. Hahaha. I’m from Minnesota and it is a den of iniquity. I’ve escaped to California (salt of the earth here) and received the same letter today. Apparently, my secret is only worth $9,450. My wife is now disappointed in how lame I am, but this will help me convince her of how much more exciting life can be in the frozen north.

    5. Josh – I Received the same letter 2 days ago in Salt Lake City. They demanded $15,750 from me. My wife theorizes the higher dollar amount is the result of my “misdeeds” being much greater than everyone else…

    6. I got the same email on July 28th 2018. He had an Very old password. That did concern me here is my letter;
      Dear. ……..
      “Let’s get straight to the point. I know that ……… is your pass word. Moreover, I do know about your secret and I have evidence of it. You don’t know me and no one paid me to look into you.

      It is just your bad luck that I stumbled across your misadventures. Actually, I actually installed a malware on the adult video clips (pornographic material) and you visited this website to have fun (you know what I mean). While you were busy watching videos, your internet browser began functioning as a Rdp (Remote desktop) that has a keylogger which provided me with accessibility to your screen as well as cam. Just after that, my software collected all of your contacts from your facebook, as well as mailbox.

      I then put in more hours than I should have exploring into your life and generated a double display video. First part displays the video you were viewing and other part displays the recording from your cam (its you doing nasty things).

      Frankly, I am willing to forget all about you and let you move on with your regular life. And I will present you two options that may make it happen. The above option is to either ignore this letter, or perhaps pay me $ 2700. Let us understand those two options in more detail.

      Option One is to ignore this email message. Let me tell you what is going to happen if you take this path. I will definitely send your video recording to all your contacts including members of your family, colleagues, and many others. It won’t save you from the humiliation your household will feel when family and friends uncover your unpleasant videos from me.

      Option 2 is to make the payment of $ 2700. We will call it my “privacy fee”. I will explain what will happen if you opt this choice. Your secret will remain your secret. I will destroy the recording immediately. You go on with your routine life as if none of this ever occurred.

      At this point you must be thinking, “I should call the cops”. Without a doubt, I have taken steps in order that this email cannot be tracked returning to me and it won’t prevent the evidence from destroying your health. I’m not looking to break your bank. I just want to be compensated for my efforts I put into investigating you. Let’s assume you have chosen to generate this all go away and pay me the confidentiality fee. You will make the payment through Bitcoin (if you don’t know how, search “how to buy bitcoins” in google)

      Amount to be sent: $ 2700
      Bitcoin Address to Send: 1APHzextKfa*XHuEPV93cvoYPe8joMkepkt (Remove * from it and note it carefully)

      Share with nobody what you should be transferring the bitcoin for or they may not offer it to you. The process to have bitcoin can take a couple of days so do not wait.
      I’ve a special pixel within this email, and right now I know that you’ve read through this e mail. You now have two days in order to make the payment. If I do not receive the Bitcoin, I will definitely send out your video to your entire contacts including relatives, co-workers, and so forth. You better come up with an excuse for friends and family before they find out. Nevertheless, if I do get paid, I will destroy the proof immediately. It’s a non negotiable offer, thus don’t waste my time & yours. Time is running out. Please note that, my software will be tracking what action you take when you’re done reading this message. You should know If I see any bad activity from your web history then I’ll send out your video recording to your family members, colleagues even before your time finishes.“

      1. Got this same one… thankfully they included the old password that they probably guessed through brute force that I’d forgotten about, so now maybe I can try it on my old site accounts where I don’t have access to the attached email anymore 🙂 since I used the same password on a lot of sites back then.

    7. I received almost the exact worded letter in e-mail form yesterday. It had an old password I used to use in the subject line and asked me for $3200 in bitcoin. It said it had video from my webcam(which I don’t have) of me on adult websites and it would be sent to all my contacts if I didn’t send payment. Thanks for posting this.

    8. I almost took this to the police, but it would have been a waste of time for the overwhelmed, overworked, under compensated and limited resource USPS inspector services. Since I have nothing to fear, I did share with my wife and we looked online and found many other sites with this scam. (we submitted as an FYI since it is Federal Mail Fraud)
      I received one 8/4/18 via USPS in Berkeley CA from BlueRaio50 requesting $9,150 in BITCOIN receiving address was 142FH9AYdh5wVIA6qsZjZtZGVtfamTWKOT
      Postmarked “Nashville, Tennessee 370. 01 Aug 2018 PM 4 L”
      Same wording, style and format.

    9. I almost took this to the police, but it would have been a waste of time for the overwhelmed, overworked, under compensated and limited resource USPS inspector services. Since I have nothing to fear, I did share with my wife and we looked online and found many other sites with this scam. (we submitted as an FYI since it is Federal Mail Fraud)
      I received one 8/4/18 via USPS in CA from BlueRaio50 requesting $9,150 in BITCOIN receiving address was 142FH9AYdh5wVIA6qsZjZtZGVtfamTWKOT
      Postmarked “Nashville, Tennessee 370. 01 Aug 2018 PM 4 L”
      Same wording, style and format.

  2. I loved this exposition on blackmailers. They have upped their game but still are doing the carpet bombing emails instead of microtargeting! Thanks for sharing. Made my day. And Red Dust 10 is an excellent writer, gotta give him that.

    1. Some people for any reason, pay to the scammer. Do you know that all the scammer are very very rich? If you pay, all of them would says “stupid American, I should have scammer you more money,” otherwise someone else would.

  3. Way to make lemonade out of lemons, Josh!

    Allow me to answer one of your questions. There are two reasons for the amount to change:

    1) When security firms and/or cops start circulating the scam, those who do the bitcoin conversion will be looking for that amount. They will not make a conversion if they know they might be possibly labeled as accessory to blackmail. If the amount stayed constant, that would be a flag that would stop the sale.

    2) The amount in the scam is going to vary with each potential victim – the amount itself is a marker. You see, just as it is anonymous to YOU, the transfer is going to be anonymous to HIM. Since you correctly guessed that a lot of affluent targets are getting shotgunned this threat, the only way they will know who replied is by cross-indexing the amount showing up on their end with their list of victims. And once they know they got you the first time, you will be an easy mark for future blackmail. After all, you are shelling out a lot of virtual coin to keep SOMETHING secret.

    Thanks again!

  4. While reading this blog I keep thinking about mass mailings and Thomas Ahern. I would love to find out what kind of ROI this person or group is earning.

  5. Great post Josh. Isn’t there some federal law about mail fraud once a letter goes through USPS, upping this automatically to a federal crime of interest to the FBI?

  6. I received the exact same letter. Postmarked from Knoxville Tenn on March 24th. The name this time was different, and the amount was $8750. Beware.

    1. Word for Word sent from St. Louis Missouri to San Francisco California. But they only want 7100 for me

      I wonder what you other guys did to deserve a higher demand

    2. Except for name, address and amount ($7250) rec’d exact same wording here in boring old San Jose, CA on 2 June 2018–letter mailed from St. Louis, MO

  7. I just received the exact same letter as well, postmarked Nashville TN on April 21st, from an extortionist using a similarly constructed pseudonym — Dust~ — and seeking an amount from me greater than that sought from Joshua and John. So, the scam is still ongoing.

  8. I just received the exact same letter as well, postmarked Nashville TN on April 21st, from an extortionist using a similarly constructed pseudonym — (Adjective)Dust~(##) — and seeking an amount from me greater than that sought from Joshua and John. So, the scam is still ongoing.

  9. Hey, my husband just got the letter. It is identical, but it asked for $8700 in bitcoin. He laughed and immediately handed it to me (the wife). I laughed and handed it to my 20 year old son (getting ready for marine boot camp). He laughed and handed it to my 26 year old daughter (who read it to her computer genius boyfriend). They laughed too. We don’t laugh all that much these days, so this was a bit of a surprise. I admit I asked if it was written by a Nigerian prince…..Does anyone seriously fall for this?

    1. WOW – my letter came yesterday. Eastcoaster’s reply caught my eye because my son is getting ready to leave for the military. Is this a common thread or just an fluke?

  10. I got the exact same letter! Almost word for word. Mine is from BlackSun~46 and they want $8400. Also, mine was postmarked in Nashville. I don’t have a blog to post mine, so I went with Facebook. Thanks for posting though. I confess it was reassuring that I’m not the only person to get the attention of blackmailers….

  11. I got one this week, postmarked from Memphis, TN. However, they sent the letter to my parents’ address. I haven’t lived there in 20 years, so I wonder what database they’re using to pull information. The house certainly isn’t in my name.

  12. +1, postmarked from Memphis, TN on May 11. Now everyone will know that I’ve stolen candy from a baby. The shame.

  13. I feel sad for American. American always think that as long as we speak loud & clear the whole understand would them. But, they are unaware that this is also the reason that American became the easy target to the world. If American don’t use the language that whole educated people could also understand, at least American would become target of the whole world scammer.

    I sincerely hope that all American is educated enough to understand that money does not always solve the problem, because the scammer think that you have money, and if you give them the amount that they were asking, I am certain they would ask for more, because now they know that you have something to hide, and they will find all the way to take all of your money until you become homeless and says “stupid American, you deserve to be scam.”

  14. Just received exact same letter in Fallbrook, CA. Amount was for $8,650. Letter was postmarked May 15th from Birmingham, AL. Not sure if I have an obligation to forward this to authorities? Since articles on this topic state that the FBi was aware of this, I called them to see if they wanted my letter. They referred me to the post office. And honestly, i’m thinking the post office probably wont do anything with this so I’m thinking I will post it on our neighborhood website. If you have some better ideas, let me know!

    1. Me too! Postmarked May 15, 2018, from Birmingham AL for $8,300. from RedLand~25 Showed it to everyone in my office so everyone can share the laugh.

    2. one more for letters from Birmingham Al postmarked May 15th from SwiftFire~12.My magic number was $8900.
      Spoke with our local police, they weren’t interested in seeing it.

  15. Thanks Josh, for this article, and Ike, for your excellent explanations of the varying dollar amounts.

    My husband received this letter this weekend in Moraga, CA, for $8,350, and also postmarked May 15th from Birmingham, AL. I asked Dave Eargle (https://daveeargle.com/2016/10/24/I-received-a-blackmail-letter/) for his recommendation on who to contact; he said we should report it to Kyle Parker, the USPIS Inspector in Memphis who is assigned to this case. His email address is kwparker@uspis.gov and the article, below, provides a Postal Inspectors hotline of 877-876-2455.

    http://wreg.com/2018/05/18/u-s-postal-inspectors-investigate-nationwide-scam-involving-bitcoin/

    (Ike, I would like to reward you for providing such valuable insights and so you will have more than an air mattress upon which to sleep. Please provide your bank details so that I might send you the money.)

  16. I would suppose that all amounts would be less than 10,000 since that is a banking limit under which most banking institutions don’t report FINTRAC. If a transaction is over 10,000 it must be reported.

  17. My husband received this letter today, but from GreyNews15 with a postmark of May 29th from Champaign, Il and asking for $7,800. We live in Los Angeles (Brentwood,CA).

  18. We just received the letter yesterday. Different BITCOIN account, amount ($7700), and it was sent from St. Louis, MO, but everything else is identical. We called the police, but they never called back. PS–The first thing I said to my husband was, “Wow! This is a really well-written letter! He must be well-educated and American-born to have such a strong command of grammar and syntax!” (Former Prof of English) 🙂

    1. I too got one yesterday, with a Bitcoin amount of $7150, also postmarked from St. Louis. The scammer must be on a road trip through the Midwest. My wife and I had a good laugh about it.

  19. Same letter sent from Indianapolis, IN for $7,950, but a bitcoin address starting with 14hB16… I live in DC.

  20. I too have received the identical letter but with a slightly new twist. There was no postmark. Just a little pen mark crossed over the stamp. The envelope was not sealed either. It’s as if it was just dropped into my box by the scammer. And my payoff was $7350.

  21. My husband got the same letter yesterday from Indianapolis, IN with a demand for $7,100. We live in San Jose, CA. The sender must have some success with this as the postage would add up quickly. I wonder if more than one person is sending these letters?

  22. I believe the cons are using Zillow.com to get the addresses and picking the homes with values above a certain amount then accessing public records for names of owners. Thanks Zillow. Also unsealed letter—no lick, no DNA? St Louis, Missouri, Champaign Illinois, Louisville Kentucky and Indianapolis Indiana are all within an easy drive of each other. Get on it, FBI.

    1. Good point! And Nashville, and Evanston…2-4 hours drive. I guess I don’t live in an affluent-enough area to warrant a paper letter. And they say nobody writes old-fashioned letters anymore…

      1. Heck, we are in Nashville and my husband received a very similar extortion letter from Shreveport, LA sent on July 14 written by BlackBread 64. The amount was $15550. He handed it straight to me, his wife!

  23. Some people for any reason, pay to the scammer. Do you know that all the scammer are very very rich? If you pay, all of them would says “stupid American, I should have scammer you more money,” otherwise someone else would.

  24. Mine arrived Saturday. Postmarked from Indianapolis, requested $7600. I googled the “name” of BadHeart11 out of curiosity. Nothing to learn from that either.

    My wife opened the letter accidentally so we had some minor tension for about 20 minutes. Then we found this information. Thanks for putting this out there

  25. Hi guys, I got my letter this week so I took it to our local police station (Boxford, MA). The response was: “We’ve seen a lot of these lately – not much we can do about it. Hang on to the letter just in case.” The officer did say that they would post a warning on the police department website and report on it on our local access cable channel. (Apparently our senior citizens actually watch the local access cable channel, and they are the most likely to fall for scams.)

  26. Just received an open letter from SwiftRatio3 asking for $7,650. This letter has all the same characteristics of the others mentioned. Postmarked May 31 from Louisville

    Thank you all for posting and verifying this scam

  27. I just received the same letter demanding $7400.00 post marked 5/29/18 from St Louis, MO. Unsealed. Reported to the Police Department Fremont, CA.

  28. Thanks for posting this information. So much for worrying about asking for over $10,000. Got my letter today demanding $15,450 from Evansville, Indiana. Not including their stupid made up name, so they can’t google this thread.

  29. My husband just received the same letter from GreyNews60 demanding $15,600 and we had a good laugh! The letter is well written and includes an impressive How-To Guide with a clear explanation of how to purchase and transfer Bitcoin. The postmark is Evansville IN, June 25, 2018, and there is a real stamp. Hubby said they probably stole the stamps! A personal touch is the piece of adhesive tape used to close the back of the envelope instead of moistening the seal. Bravo to the Nigerian prince as he must have used some of the money to buy himself a proper education as his writing is MUCH improved. 😉

  30. I was dating a guy a couple of years ago who, right about the time we broke up, was freaking out about a call he got from the IRS claiming he owed money. I guarantee he would fall for this. Both because he’s not that bright, but also as I found out, he had stuff to hide (Including a wife)…..

  31. Opened the same letter today, post marked from Memphis TN on the 11th of May. BadDust~17 and amount was $8,450. Luckily I have nothing to hide otherwise this letter was well written enough to scare me. I’m in an upper end neighborhood in Shell Beach CA. I appreciated the step-by-step instructions on how to buy bit coin though and will save that part.

  32. Thanks for the post. Especially the photo of the letter. My wife opened the letter and immediately knew it was BS as she has Lupus and I am her full time care giver not to mention earning $$$ for us since we were married over 20 years ago.
    It occurred to me that since he spent “more time than I probably should looking into your life”, he ought to know my wife’s name and use it to put a more pointy barb on the spear he is using to stick in my rear end. There were other tells that he was full of it.
    My letter was post marked Nashville on July 6th from BlackGene58. Amount needed to keep “my secret” ? $8,550.00.
    After we ate breakfast, I searched and came upon your post and others.
    Thanks.

  33. There is no indication of what to do when those things happen to you. Is it that you never send a payment and if so, has any one had any repurcussions for doing that? Should we be reporting the email ones to the FCC. I got something in an email today that pretty much has the same threat – now the bit coin amount is a little less 2985 to be exact.

  34. I got my copy of the same demand letter from RedSquare91 in Nashville, TN to me in Palo Alto, CA asking for $8900.

  35. This scam just got a new twist! And transitioned worldwide – I’m writing from Eastern Europe 🙂

    I just received such letter but not into my mailbox, but on my e-mail. The email’s title contained my password, I actually set a few years ago during registration on some portal (I don’t remember which, maybe Adobe), so it got immediately my attention. I think this scammer (or someone else inspired with original idea) got access to leaked data and made such psychological blackmailing use. For the sake of other victims looking for informations, let me post e-mail version of this scam (a lot of words and sentences has changed from this version posted above, but the main idea is exactly the same):

    >>>
    Let’s get straight to the point. I am aware [xxx-your-actual-password-xxx] is your pass word. Moreover, I know your secret and I have evidence of your secret. You don’t know me and no one paid me to investigate you.

    It’s just your misfortune that I stumbled across your bad deeds. Well, I placed a malware on the adult vids (pornography) and you visited this website to have fun (you know what I mean). When you were busy watching video clips, your internet browser started out working as a Rdp (Remote desktop) that has a keylogger which gave me access to your display and also web cam. Immediately after that, my software obtained your entire contacts from messenger, social networks, as well as email.

    After that I put in more hours than I should have digging into your life and made a double-screen video. 1st part shows the recording you were watching and next part displays the video of your web camera (its you doing nasty things).

    Frankly, I’m ready to forget about you and allow you to continue with your life. And I am going to present you two options that will make it happen. The two choices either to ignore this letter, or simply just pay me $2900. Let us investigate above two options in more detail.

    Option One is to ignore this e-mail. Let’s see what will happen if you choose this path. I will definitely send your video recording to all your contacts including friends and family, co-workers, and so forth. It does not help you avoid the humiliation your family will must feel when friends and family discover your unpleasant videos from me.

    Other Option is to pay me $2900. We’ll call it my “confidentiality fee”. Now let me tell you what happens if you choose this path. Your secret remains your secret. I’ll destroy the recording immediately. You move on with your routine life like none of this ever occurred.

    Now you may be thinking, “I should call the cops”. Without a doubt, I’ve taken steps in order that this email can’t be linked returning to me also it will not prevent the evidence from destroying your daily life. I am not trying to dig a hole in your pocket. I am just looking to be paid for time I put into investigating you. Let’s assume you have decided to make all this disappear completely and pay me the confidentiality fee. You’ll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, type “how to buy bitcoins” on google search)

    Amount to be sent: $2900
    Bitcoin Address to Send to: xxxxxxxxxx
    (It is CASE sensitive, so copy and paste it)

    Tell no-one what you would be using the bitcoin for or they will often not give it to you. The process to acquire bitcoins may take a day or two so do not put it off.
    I have a unique pixel within this mail, and now I know that you’ve read through this email. You now have two days to make the payment. If I do not get the Bitcoin, I definitely will send out your video recording to all your contacts including members of your family, coworkers, and so on. You better come up with an excuse for friends and family before they find out. Nevertheless, if I receive the payment, I will erase the video immediately. It is a non negotiable offer, thus kindly do not ruin my personal time and yours. Your time has started.

    1. I received the same email, I’m from Melbourne, Australia and like you a password I used years ago for innocuous sites

  36. I juste received the same email, and I just spend 5 hours checking all my passwords ;-PPPPP
    —-
    I’m going to cut to the chase. I know that is your password. More importantly, I know your secret and I’ve evidence of your secret. You do not know me and nobody hired me to examine you.

    It is just your misfortune that I came across your misadventures. Actually, I placed a malware on the adult video clips (porn) and you visited this web site to have fun (you know what I mean). When you were busy watching videos, your web browser started out operating as a Rdp (Remote desktop) with a key logger which gave me access to your display and web cam. After that, my software program collected all of your contacts from messenger, facebook, and mailbox.

    After that I put in much more time than I probably should have exploring into your life and created a double screen video. First part displays the video you had been watching and second part displays the video of your webcam (its you doing nasty things).

    Honestly, I’m ready to forget all about you and allow you to get on with your regular life. And I am about to offer you two options that can achieve that. Those two choices are with the idea to ignore this letter, or simply just pay me $ 3200. Let us investigate these 2 options in more detail.

    First Option is to ignore this e mail. Let’s see what will happen if you take this path. I will, no doubt send out your video to all of your contacts including family members, colleagues, etc. It doesn’t protect you from the humiliation your family will feel when friends and family learn your sordid details from me.

    Second Option is to send me $ 3200. We will name it my “confidentiality fee”. Now let me tell you what happens if you choose this path. Your secret remains your secret. I will erase the video immediately. You keep your daily life as though none of this ever occurred.

    At this point you must be thinking, “Let me call cops”. Without a doubt, I have covered my steps to ensure that this email message cannot be tracked to me and it won’t stay away from the evidence from destroying your health. I am not trying to dig a hole in your pocket. I just want to be paid for my time I put into investigating you. Let’s hope you have chosen to make pretty much everything disappear completely and pay me the confidentiality fee. You will make the payment through Bitcoins (if you do not know this, type “how to buy bitcoins” in search engine)

    Required Amount: $ 3200
    Bitcoin Address to Send to:
    (It is cASe sensitive, so copy and paste it carefully)

    Tell no person what you would use the Bitcoins for or they may not provide it to you. The procedure to have bitcoin will take a few days so do not wait.
    I’ve a unique pixel within this email message, and at this moment I know that you’ve read this mail. You have two days in order to make the payment. If I do not receive the Bitcoins, I will definitely send your video recording to your contacts including family members, coworkers, and so on. You better come up with an excuse for friends and family before they find out. Nevertheless, if I receive the payment, I will destroy the video immediately. It is a non negotiable offer, thus kindly don’t ruin my personal time and yours. Time is running out.

    1. Got the same email on July 14th
      Let’s get straight to the point. I’m aware xxxxx is your pass word. More importantly, I know your secret and I’ve proof of your secret. You do not know me personally and no one hired me to investigate you.

      It is just your bad luck that I came across your misadventures. Well, I placed a malware on the adult videos (porno) and you visited this web site to experience fun (you know what I mean). When you were watching videos, your internet browser started out working as a Rdp (Remote control desktop) with a key logger which gave me access to your display as well as webcam. Just after that, my software program obtained your entire contacts from fb, and e-mail.

      I then gave in more time than I should’ve investigating into your life and made a two view video. First part shows the recording you were watching and 2nd part displays the capture of your web camera (its you doing dirty things).

      Honestly, I want to forget about you and let you continue with your life. And I am about to present you two options that will make it happen. Those two choices either to ignore this letter, or simply just pay me $3200. Let us explore those two options in details.

      First Option is to ignore this mail. Let’s see what will happen if you opt this path. I will definately send your video recording to your entire contacts including members of your family, co-workers, etc. It doesn’t help you avoid the humiliation you and your family will ought to feel when friends and family find out your sordid details from me.

      Other Option is to pay me $3200. We’ll call it my “confidentiality tip”. Now let me tell you what happens if you choose this path. Your secret remains your secret. I’ll destroy the video immediately. You go on with your life like nothing like this ever happened.

      Now you must be thinking, “I should call the cops”. Without a doubt, I’ve covered my steps to ensure that this e-mail cannot be tracked returning to me also it won’t stop the evidence from destroying your life. I am not looking to dig a hole in your pocket. I am just looking to get compensated for time I place into investigating you. Let’s hope you have chosen to make all of this disappear completely and pay me my confidentiality fee. You will make the payment via Bitcoins (if you do not know how, search “how to buy bitcoins” in search engine)

      Amount to be sent: $3200
      Bitcoin Address to Send to: 1N9M8prUzY1qKcn3SpxqDzLiK7PGEfVs6V
      (It is cASe sensitive, so copy and paste it)

      Tell nobody what will you be utilising the Bitcoins for or they possibly will not provide it to you. The procedure to obtain bitcoins will take a short time so do not delay.
      I’ve a special pixel within this email, and at this moment I know that you’ve read this mail. You have 48 hours to make the payment. If I do not receive the Bitcoin, I will send your video recording to your entire contacts including friends and family, colleagues, etc. You better come up with an excuse for friends and family before they find out. Nonetheless, if I do get paid, I will destroy the video immediately. It is a non-negotiable offer, thus kindly don’t waste my time and yours. Time is running out.

  37. Hello All – I received this letter today, July 17. Wondering if they have made good on their threats? Fuck them.

  38. Just received same letter , but now the amount that this person is asking for is $15,750. I guess this person is not getting the response he / she is looking for. I have reported to to the FBI at IC3.gov and also with the USPS Mail Fraud complaint.

    Good information in this blog. Thank you.

  39. Just received same letter , but now the amount that this person is asking for is $15,750. I guess this person is not getting the response he / she is looking for. I have reported to to the FBI at IC3.gov and also with the USPS Mail Fraud complaint.

  40. I got the same email on the 16th. I went as far as typing the moron an email, but knowing the address is likely not monitored I never sent it. I’ll paste it below for your pleasure (Excuse the bad english, I was in a rush):

    Lol, congratulations on finding my password that I haven’t used for years. I’m glad you have logged my key strokes so that you know I have now reported you to several government agencies as well as hotmail scamming. Hopefully you’ll get shut down. I’d love for you to produce one shred of video of me doing “dirty things” while on my computer. I’ve let my family and friends (that you don’t actually have addresses for) know that anything coming from you is malware that will destroy their computers. I have nothing to fear from you and you know it. Since you don’t have enough courage to prove that you have video, enough information to know what platform I am use to attempt rdp, and enough sense to think I’m foolish enough to fall for such a scam; I say bring it on. Please check your bitcoin address for the money I won’t be sending you. Since your email address isn’t legitimate I won’t bother actually sending this. i hope you’ve already been caught. Slime like you don’t deserve to be free.

    1. I just got an email with the exact words asking for 3200. The subject name being an old password of mine. I actually did send a short message saying that it wasn’t my password.
      I had contacted an IT mate of mine who said that as long as they don’t know your current password they can’t send anything out through your accounts. Did this creep mean to send it through his own email or through ours?
      Also there is no evidence…. how would any of us know that he has anything on us????

  41. I just received the same letter postmarked Shreveport LA. The demand is now north of $15,000.

    I’m all for covering my tracks but this is expensive and late. My wife already found out I put one of her “Do Not Tumble Dry” items in the dryer.

    1. Yep, I secretly give my kids ice cream after school and this scammer probably found out. Wife will be very disappointed in my snack selection!

  42. They also had my “password”. I use different passwords on different sites, so I’ve narrowed it down to just about 3 potential sites they could have gotten this particular password from. The frontrunner is a now defunct site that I know had been hacked multiple times. Its called meritline.com. They used to sell technological do-dads at low prices.
    All you people receiving this letter – how many of you bought something from meritline when it was operating?

  43. Well, this was amusing! My husband just got it today, $15,950! He also put my “do not dry” clothes in the dryer, guess it’s the laundry police honing into these horrific laundry crimes!

  44. My husband received this letter in the mail yesterday, from BadCircle8. …sent to our home in Chicago; Postmarked Nashville…$15,600

    1. I got the same letter on July 24 to Seattle area address, also post-marked Nashville…$15,250. This is a reason for bitcoin and other cryptocurrency to be illegal.

      1. I feel SOOOO disrespected. My letter from Nashville arrived today here in the DMV and my secrets are only worth $9,400. Having read the other comments on this website my wife is very disappointed in me…. (again??!!). The shame I feel….. What a laugh on a Saturday night. Thanks to “withoutbullshit.com” for an enjoyable evening.

  45. I got the same letter today.

    Yes; slightly better crafted than your standard Nigerian prince email.

    Do people really fall for this? If so I might have to quit my day job:)

    The Russians gotta make a living somehow…

  46. Got same but as email a couple of days ago. Since I didn’t know what a ‘bitcoin’ was I looked it up on google. I also contacted simplex.com (associated with a bitcoin transfer). I had an online chat and was directed to their ‘comment’ website. I entered the bitcoin address that the scammer sent me. Simplex is to examine the risk and get back to me after I press the ‘submit’. I made no payment nor have a bitcoin account.

    I also contacted my local police department who said to go online and submit a report. I was also told that since no money had been paid by me that no crime was committed.

    I then typed in on google ‘blackmail bitcoin sextape’ and found your websit reporting the scam as well as newspaper articles on similar scams.

    Finally I went to an FBI website ‘ic3.gov from which I could file a complaint. Waiting to see how all of this plays out.

  47. Received mine last night by email, very unsettling that this goes on. They had an old password, one I used on some forum sites. I don’t see much reason to send it to the FBI since they’re busy with Trump. I bought high end tubes from Russia, my wife says I colluded too. I get phone calls every week from Microsoft telling me my Windows expired, I get calls from the IRS saying I have a bill do today or it goes in the paper. My 80-year old mother gave $400 because of the Windows scam, I suspect there’s more she didn’t tell me about. My guess is people are losing a lot of money to this, really sad.

  48. I received my letter yesterday (August 1st). It was word for word like the others, except my blackmailer wanted $9,200 in bitcoin. After getting over the initial panic (“WTF? What could someone possibly know about me??”), I took the letter to our local police department where several officers read it together and all came to the same conclusion “SCAM”! They hung on to it so that a detective and the FBI could follow up on it. Upon returning home, I googled “bitcoin blackmail scam” and confirmed that it actually WAS a scam blackmail letter.

    (Oh, I saw my two of my brothers-in-law soon after all of this and let them know, with a wink, that they’d soon find out the “sordid details” of my “secret” life, haha.)

  49. I received the exact same snail mail letter on August 1st. Mailed July 30th, 2018 from Louisville KY. Of course my wife opened it, as it looked like junk mail…. Finding this post online was helpful. My scammer’s name is “RedMeat70” and he wants $9350. Guess I wasn’t as bad as some of you…. 🙂

  50. I received the same letter in Mass. mailed from Knoxville TN on July 30, 2018. The demand was for $9,400.00. Not concerned with the letter but I did report it to the local FBI Office. I am more concerned about a possible database of our information taken from another source. Not sure what query they would be using of public information that they could find the information. I do not think these types of scammers really involve themselves in any heavy lifting.

  51. Received the same letter from BlueRatio32 demanding $9,100 in Annapolis, MD. Postmarked Louisville, KY, 30 July 2018 PM21.

  52. I received same letter from BlackTriangle13 demanding $9,500 in Vacaville, CA Postmarked Nashville, TN on 31-July 2018.

  53. I live in Denville, NJ and received one from RedTruth79 looking for $9,250, postmarked in Knoxville, TN 28 Jul 2018. As there are so many of these in circulation, I doubt it’s worth handing over to the FBI/Cops.

  54. One of my clients got one of these letters. His wife showed it to me. (Having nothing to hide, he showed it to her for a good laugh.) She asked me what they should do. I said “nothing.”
    On the other hand, a recent L.A. Times article said “You have nothing to worry about unless you have something to worry about.”
    So these blackmailers, while hit and miss, must be makiong enough money to make this scam worthwhile.

    I am old, divorced and not involved in any monkeybusiness. My computer does not have a camera on it. I lead a quiet life. So far I have not been extorted. I am hoping things change soon. I would like to send a small amount of Bitcoin (I would never send what is asked) and follow the transaction through Bitcoin security.

  55. Man, either inflation or the lowering values of Bitcoin had mine come in with a demand for $14,600 worth today. Mine was from BadCircle8. Just made a copy and was going to upload it on my twitter account for all my techie friends to enjoy when I decided to do a quick google search to see how common these are. I’m not feeling all that special anymore, lol. Was going to request they go ahead and send me the “sordid details” of what I’ve been hiding because I lead a pretty boring life and it might make things more interesting for me 😀

    Thanks for posting this. They weren’t going to get anything from me, but it is nice to know it is going around.

  56. I’d say inflation is catching up. I got one from GreyMeat90 (really getting creative with their names). To be honest there are probably endless secrets I keep from my wife, some I reveal later (like a surprise birthday party – man I hope he is NOT going to spoil that one…). And the fact that he threatens to tell the family and neighbours might point into that direction. But then again, her birthday is next year. Then there are the ones where I did eat all the gummibears and pretend no to know about it. I think she might know it was me… . But any hard evidence could make me look bad and confirm her suspicions. Other than that there are few secrets in general that I would be willing to pay anything for so GreyMeat90 won’t tell them to anyone – and for sure not USD 15,100 (hahahahaha). All jokes aside, Michael Chandler from Franklin, TN (spoiler alert: Michael is not the real sender) these guys are indeed getting better at this. From a math point of few I’d say their success rate might go up when asking for less, but by now I hope many people ready about this BS and expose GreyMeat90 and his buddies (if it is not one person). Useless idiots who have nothing else to do in their low life than to scam people are not rare – unfortunately – but with blogs like these, their job is getting less easy. THANKS for setting this up! Keep it up 🙂
    PS: thank good GreyMeat90 told me that he is not Michael from Franklin…. cause I was about to drive to Franklin and have a serious 1:1 with that Michael.

  57. I got mine 4 days ago from bluegem44 asking for $14,700. Not only was mine postmarked from Nashville, but mine actually had a return address on it from Nashville.

  58. I open all our mail so the cat was out of the bag early. The letter was from BadMeat32, post marked form Nashville and demanding $9,350. At $0.50 per letter, there must be some suckers out there. In any case, I have encouraged my husband not to pay so that we can find out what aweful thing he has done. His position is that he can’t think of anything that would make me madder than paying some goofball $9350 via BitCoin.

  59. Washington, DC here – received a letter today purportedly from a physician in Centralia, IL (a person who is an actual physician whose name is being used). demanded $29,600 in bitcoin, so inflation/cost of living in DC. I wonder how much they’re asking for from folks who live in NYC or San Francisco!

  60. LOL, You got off cheaply, my letter said $29,200.
    It is a pretty easy thing to get owners name and address then get the property value then equate how much you think they can afford.

  61. I got mine yesterday from BlackGate67 asking for $29,000 also from an alleged physician in Belleville, Il. I am filing a complaint with the FBI and The U.S. Postal Inspector.

    1. Nope you’re tied with me, Also just received one for $30,000. WE must be very interesting…
      Anyways the letter was sent to my mom’s address where I haven’t lived in 22 years, they got the city where the house is wrong, I’m frankly surprised it even was delivered. Furthermore I’m not married nor have ever been, so good luck telling my wife (or her feeling embarrassed), and I don’t know any of those neighbors anymore (they’d be like, Who?)
      “I then put in more time than I probably should have looking into your life” and “I just want to be compensated for the time I put in.”
      HAHA, clearly didn’t put in any time and Nope, nobody pays for shoddy work like that.
      Wish I had something worth paying 30k to keep quiet or the money to dole out to someone to keep that secret. I wonder if they got the idea from the Trump/Stormy Daniels thing, I’m not running for office nor am I such a reprehensible person who has great misdeeds to hide.

  62. Received identical letter (in Greater Boston area) on Saturday, 9/8, postmarked from Birmingham, AL, demanding $9,400. The return address was a chiropractor’s office in Birmingham. There should be enough data points accumulating for authorities to narrow the circle around these jack-assess!

  63. I got mine yesterday, exact same letter but from RedTruth52, he was only demanding $9000 from me. Postmark was Nashville TN, no return address.

  64. Got mine from BlackScene85 postmarked in Nashville TN, no return address. They asked for $9,200. I don’t know what is more insulting, the fact that I have been extorted, or my wife’s laughter that someone thinks my life is interesting enough to have a secret.

  65. I got the letter yesterday. I ended up here. Felt sorry for all you folks who have been behaving so poorly, and paid all your debts in full. You are welcome. Please, stop sinning!

  66. I Have received the same email from this adress email :

    I know xxxxxx one of your password. Lets get right to purpose. You may not know me and you’re most likely wondering why you are getting this mail? None has paid me to investigate about you.

    Well, I setup a malware on the adult streaming (adult porn) web site and guess what, you visited this website to experience fun (you know what I mean). When you were viewing videos, your web browser started working as a RDP with a key logger which provided me accessibility to your screen as well as cam. Just after that, my software gathered your complete contacts from your Messenger, social networks, as well as email . And then I made a video. 1st part displays the video you were watching (you have a nice taste omg), and second part shows the recording of your web camera, yea its you.

    You have two possibilities. We should explore these types of choices in particulars:

    First option is to neglect this e-mail. As a result, I will send your very own tape to all of your personal contacts and you can easily imagine concerning the humiliation you will get. And as a consequence should you be in an important relationship, precisely how it is going to affect?

    Second option would be to pay me $3000. We are going to name it as a donation. Subsequently, I will promptly remove your video footage. You will keep on going daily life like this never occurred and you will not hear back again from me.

    You will make the payment through Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, search for “how to buy bitcoin” in Google).

    BTC Address to send to: 1LTTdU7B93QqDcJAAKFixTvZ95KLnBeoCb
    [CASE sensitive, copy and paste it]

    Should you are making plans for going to the law enforcement, good, this mail cannot be traced back to me. I have covered my steps. I am not attempting to ask you for very much, I simply prefer to be rewarded.

    You have one day in order to pay. I have a unique pixel within this e mail, and at this moment I know that you have read through this mail. If I don’t get the BitCoins, I definitely will send out your video to all of your contacts including relatives, coworkers, and so forth. Nevertheless, if I receive the payment, I’ll destroy the video right away. If you need proof, reply with Yup! then I definitely will send your video to your 8 contacts. It’s a nonnegotiable offer, and so don’t waste my time and yours by responding to this e-mail.

  67. I received one last week and decided to contact a a hacker WORLDJOBFINDER AT YAHOO DOT COM. I was able to locate the scammer and as we speak he’s awaiting trial .

  68. From a cybersecurity e-mail list, FYI —

    “Starting around May 2018, there have been a number of attack waves pushing different versions of sextortion threats.

    “There have been sextortion scams where the criminals claimed they were from China, where the hackers claimed they intercepted a user’s computer cache data, where the hackers claimed to have hacked all of a victim’s online accounts, where crooks claimed they hacked the victim’s phone, or where crooks claimed to have recorded the user via his webcam while visiting adult sites.

    “These themes vary almost on a weekly basis, as scammers professionally test different themes and tactics to determine the best ROI. And they’ve been making money hand over fist.

    “But this week, sextortion scams took another dangerous turn. Security researchers at Proofpoint blogged they’ve seen a variation of a sextortion scam campaign that included a download link at the bottom of the blackmail message.

    “The scammers claimed to have a video of the user pleasuring himself while visiting adult sites, and they urged the user to access the link and see for himself. But Proofpoint says that instead of a video, users received a ZIP file with a set of malicious files inside.

    “Users who downloaded and ran these files would be infected by the AZORult malware, which would immediately download and install the GandCrab ransomware. Even if the user had no intention of paying the sextortion demand, curious users would still end up being held for ransom if they were careless enough to follow the link and ran the files they received.

    “You should warn your users to delete these emails.”

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