What has happened?

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning about a new type of bitcoin scams aimed at blackmailing people.

What does this mean?

Scammers are sending letters to men, threatening to expose alleged affairs and demanding payments in bitcoin in exchange for keeping quiet, warned Cristina Miranda, a member of the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education earlier this week.

An example letter read:

“I know about the secret you are keeping from your wife and everyone else. You can ignore this letter, or pay me a $8600 confidentiality fee in bitcoin”.

Miranda said that the letters also explain how victims are meant to make the payments.

The education division works to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair business practices.

It also guides people on how to avoid losing money through these types of cryptocurrency-related scams.

The FTC advised that anyone who receives this kind of letter should "immediately" report it to the local police and the FBI.

"This is a criminal extortion attempt to separate people from their money," Miranda said.

The agency said that the scammers are targeting men more than women, but comments on the posts showed that women are also a target.

One comment, by username PonderosaOH, said:

"I am a female and received such a scam letter, stating that they had pics of me involved in sex acts and would expose me if I didn't pay them thousands in Bitcoin. I didn't think twice about informing the FTC. Wish I had [thought] to forward the info to the FBI. But I am grateful the word is out to save people unnecessary grief."

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