Postal Inspectors investigate scam involving Bitcoin

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —U.S. Postal Inspectors are investigating a nationwide scam, right here in Memphis, involving letters sent to men demanding thousands of dollars.

Imagine getting a letter in the mail, with your name on it the sender demanding thousands of dollars, or else spilling a secret.

That's exactly what's been landing in the mailbox of thousands of men across the country and right here in Memphis.

United States Postal Inspector Kyle Parker is investigating the case.

"The letters simply say that I know a secret that you`ve been hiding from your wife, if you don`t pay this extortion fee, then I`m going to tell your wife," Parker said. "They all say 10 days that the victim has to pay the extortion fee."

A fee that must be paid using the site local bitcoins.com.

WREG got a tip about the Bitcoin scam letters crooks asking one man for a little over $3400 but in these latest letters, the so-called confidentiality fee is much higher at $8900.

"They're scared of what would happen if they don't pay," Parker said.

Even if they don't have something to hide.

"We had several victims come forward that are c-level executives, that work in the government, and so they can't afford to have their name tarnished for something they're not even involved in," Parker said.

Parker says the scammers are targeting certain men their information likely obtained through a hack.

"A corporate hack that has been found and paid for on the dark web, that somebody has a list of middle to high-income households, their names and their home addresses," Parker said.

But Parker said that's all the crooks have.

"There's no family names, there's no relatives or neighbor's names, so I think that information, along with the fact that they're not specifying what kind of secret that they know," Parker said.

Which is a red flag and reason enough Parker says, for people not to pay. If someone has paid.

"We would love to get their information or even if they submit a tip anonymously," Parker said.

Because Parker said they may be able to trace the receiving Bitcoin address.

The latest batch of letters were mailed May 11th, right here in Memphis, and Parker says who is sending them could be the real clue to solving the case.

"We truly believe that the person mailing these letters is an unwitting participant that does not know that they`re mailing a fraud scheme," Parker said.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of this scam, or if you have any information about those mailers, call the Postal Inspectors hotline, that number is 877-876-2455.