A series of anonymous extortion letters demanding payment in bitcoin has begun to emerge on social media as wary recipients ask their online communities for advice. This one appeared on Reddit.com, where user Viousimper reports that he received it in a handwritten envelope with no return address.
This one came from Twitter. As you can see, it uses the same basic format, but each letter identifies a different bitcoin wallet to which extortion payments are supposed to be made.
This scam will now be reported to the FBI and the Post Office, which will use metadata to investigate it. The sender(s) should expect to be caught and face federal charges of mail fraud.
Bitcoin has so far failed to create a global libertarian paradise. In fact, bitcoin appears to be making wealth inequality problems worse, even intentionally so. Ironically, the idealistic users who turned to “crypto-currencies” out of concern for the role of governments in our fiat money supply have been forced to accept a measure of government regulation in order to prop up the value of their bitcoins, which are now legally considered property, not money. The built-in anonymity which attracted enthusiastic privacy proponents has also been extremely attractive to criminals who see an opportunity to profit from computer hacking and fraud. This is just the latest example of bitcoin garnering a reputation for lawlessness and criminality outside the code-cloistered world of technophiles.