The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has recently seen an uptick in a common scam locally. The scam involves the victim receiving a letter or email indicating the sender has obtained personal and private information about the victim. The sender indicates the information they have obtained will both personally and public damage the victim’s reputation. The suspect then attempts to extort money from the victim in order to keep the information confidential.
This type of extortion tends to target individuals who have high profile careers or have recently been mentioned in news or internet posts. The correspondence is well written, convincing and it provides detail of how to transfer funds via “bitcoin” or “pre-paid” credit cards.
If you receive correspondence of this nature, please contact law enforcement right away. Please remember to never give personal or financial information to anyone you are not completely sure is legitimate and always contact the requesting agency directly to verify.
To report scams, call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP or visitftc.gov/complaint.