Authorities have seen a rise in a common extortion scam in Santa Barbara County and now they’re warning residents to be careful.
The scam involves the victim receiving a letter or email telling them the sender has acquired personal and private information about the victim. The sender then tells the victim that the information they’ve obtained will be damaging to the victim’s reputation when released to the public.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says the suspect then attempts to extort money from the victim in order to keep them from releasing the information to the public.
“This type of extortion tends to target individuals who have high profile careers or have recently been mentioned in news or internet posts,” said a statement from the Sheriff’s Office. “The correspondence is well written, convincing and it provides detail of how to transfer funds via “bitcoin” or “pre-paid” credit cards.”
Anyone who received these types of letters or emails is asked to contact law enforcement right away.
The Sheriff’s Office reminds everyone to never give personal or financial information to anyone without confirming the legitimacy of the source. Rather, contact the agency requesting the information directly to verify.
To report scams, call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 or visit https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.