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  • BVNA

Scam Alert:Secrets, Lies, and Bitcoin

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office is alerting the community about a scam that uses letters and demands for payment by Bitcoin. Some Santa Clara County residents have received a mysterious letter with no return address, alleging that the recipient is hiding an illicit activity. The allegation is intentionally vague to cover all kinds of behavior. This recent crop of letters brings a digital currency twist to a very old scam. The new angle is to demand payment with Bitcoin, a type of cryptocurrency that is difficult to trace. Bitcoin is not tied to a bank or national government and can be redeemed all over the globe. This means that the scammer and the victim’s money are often outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement. One version of the letter starts with the statement: “I’m going to cut to the chase. I know about the secret you are keeping from your wife and everyone else….” To avoid having the alleged secret revealed, the letter demands a large payment. The scammers most likely know nothing about the intended victims. They hope that by casting a wide net, they will either reach someone with a guilty conscience or an innocent person who does not want to deal with a false, but embarrassing allegation. Once a victim falls for the scam and makes a payment, the blackmail seldom stops. The first payment will likely be followed by more – and increasing – demands. The District Attorney’s Office recommends that you disregard these letters. If you have fallen victim to such a scam, please contact the U.S. Postal Inspector’s Service (877-876-2455) or your local police department. For more questions about scams or consumer issues, call the District Attorney’s Consumer Mediation Services at 408-792-2880. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:


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