Extortion is a very old crime that's being given new life in the cyber world. A recent public service announcement from the FBI warns computer users to be on the lookout for threats that use stolen information to tailor extortion demands to specific email addresses.
The sheer number of email addresses, names, and other personally identifiable information (PII) pieces that have been stolen makes extortionists' jobs much easier. In the usual case, the criminals will send an email (or even a paper letter) with personal information in the lead paragraph and threaten to expose visits to pornography sites, marital infidelity, or other potentially embarrassing behavior unless a fee is paid.
This being 2018, the most common mechanism for paying the ransom is Bitcoin, generally within a 48-hour window, unless the victim is ready to see their behavior shared on social media.
The FBI recommends declining to pay the extortion request, and rather contacting local law enforcement and the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center). They also recommmend taking standard email and online precautions to avoid becoming a victim of this scam.
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