Growing Scam Alerts

Sent: April 13, 2018


The Bitcoin Scam

The Kenilworth Police Department is warning residents to beware of a blackmail scam, after a resident reported receiving an extortion letter in the mail from someone looking to collect a $8,200 bitcoin payment.

The scammer targeted a married man, claiming to know the person’s “secret” and having evidence of his “misadventures.” The blackmailer threatened to reveal the unspecified information to the man’s wife, friends and family if the letter was ignored and payment wasn’t made. To remain anonymous, the writer demanded bitcoin payment and provided a specific receiving bitcoin address and time period to cough up the confidentiality fee. Bitcoin is a digital asset and payment system. The system is peer-to-peer; users can transact directly without an intermediary.

The letter included instructions on how to make the deposit and told the man not to tell anyone what the bitcoin would be used for. The writer ended the letter by vowing to disappear and forget the referenced secret after receiving the payment.

This is a recent and recurring scam that has been occurring throughout the United States. 

  • Remember to never wire money, purchase bitcoins, gift cards or green dot cards in response to someone who is threatening you.
  • If you have paid money and believe you’re a victim of fraud, contact our agency at 847-251-2141 to report the loss to law enforcement.

The receipt of such a letter can be reported as attempted mail fraud to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service online at this link: https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/contactUs/filecomplaint.aspx

The same scam was reported in a CNBC story earlier this year:  https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/22/growing-blackmail-scam-demands-payment-in-bitcoin.html

Inheritance Fraud Scam

Inheritance fraud is when you are told that someone very rich has died and you’re in line to receive a huge inheritance.

A fraudster who claims to be a lawyer or banker from overseas or some other legal official sends you an email or a letter. They tell you that a person sharing your family name has died and left behind a vast amount of money.

The lawyer is administering the inheritance and has been unable to identify any of the dead person’s relatives. As a result, the money will go to the government. The lawyer suggests that, because you share the same family name as the deceased, he could pay the inheritance to you. 
The fraudsters might emphasize the need for secrecy and warn you not to tell anyone else about the deal. To hurry you into making a hasty decision, they will also stress the need to act quickly.

However, there is no inheritance and the person contacting you isn’t a lawyer or legal official.

If you DO respond to the fraudsters, they’ll ask you to pay various fees – for example: taxes, legal fees, banking fees etc. – so they can release your non-existent inheritance. 
Each time you make a payment, the fraudsters will come up with a reason why the inheritance can’t be paid out unless you make another payment. If you ask, they will also give you reasons why the fees can’t be taken from your inheritance and have to be paid upfront.

If you become reluctant to pay a fee or suggest you can’t afford it, the fraudsters will put pressure on you by reminding you how close you are to receiving a sum of money much greater than the fees you’ve already handed over, and of how much you’ve already paid out.

The fraudsters may also ask for your bank details so they can pay the inheritance directly into your bank account. But, if you hand over your bank details, the fraudsters can use them to empty your account.

What should you do if you’re a victim of inheritance fraud?

  • Report it to the Kenilworth Police Department at 847-251-2141.
  • End all further contact with the fraudsters.
  • Don’t send them any more money.
  • Don’t give them your bank details.
  • If you have already given the fraudsters your bank account details, alert your bank immediately.
  • Be aware that you’re now likely to be a target for other frauds. Fraudsters often share details about people they have successfully targeted or approached, using different identities to commit further frauds.
  • People who have already fallen victim to fraudsters are particularly vulnerable to the fraud recovery fraud. This is when fraudsters contact people who’ve already lost money through fraud and claim to be law enforcement officers or lawyers. They’ll advise the victim that they can help them recover their lost money – but request a fee. 

Kenilworth Police Department
419 Richmond Road • Kenilworth, IL 60043
Phone: 847-251-2141 • FAX: 847-251-3445

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