The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) issued a public alert today, warning against a spike in Bitcoin-based extortion attempts against regular US citizens that had their personal details leaked in one of the recent mega breaches.

The FBI says crooks collected the data from these data breaches and are sending intimidating emails to people that had their personal details exposed.

Crooks ask between 2 and 5 Bitcoin to keep quiet

Crooks threaten to release the victim’s personal data onto the public Internet, while some other times they claimed they’ve hacked the victim’s social media accounts as well.

In some weirder cases, the crooks also make preposterous claims that they have “dirt” on the recipient, which they’re willing to share with the victim’s friends on various social networks.

In order to keep the crook quiet, victims have to pay between 2 and 5 Bitcoin ($500 and $2,500).

Blame poor server security, mega breaches, and hacktivists

All of this is happening because in the past month, sites like LinkedIn, MySpace, Tumblr,, or BeautifulPeople have suffered massive data breaches that exposed the personal details of hundreds of millions of users.

This data often reaches the public Internet or is available for purchase on Dark Web marketplaces.

Besides public services, voter databases belonging to the US, Mexico, Turkey, and the Philippines also ended up online in the past months as well, containing even more personal details than your regular social media profile.

Similar extortion attempts happened last year as well, after the Ashley Madison data breach. Back then, users received similar ransom emails, which led to lawsuits and even to the suspicious suicide of one of the extortion email’s recipients.

Below are a collection of paragraphs collected from extortion emails by the FBI’s IC3 division.

  Unfortunately your data was leaked in a recent corporate hack and I now have your information. I have also used your user profile to find your social media accounts. Using this I can now message all of your friends and family members.  

  If you would like to prevent me from sharing this information with your friends and family members (and perhaps even your employers too) then you need to send the specified bitcoin payment to the following address.  

  If you think this amount is too high, consider how expensive a divorce lawyer is. If you are already divorced then I suggest you think about how this information may impact any ongoing court proceedings. If you are no longer in a committed relationship then think about how this information may affect your social standing amongst family and friends.  

  We have access to your Facebook page as well. If you would like to prevent me from sharing this dirt with all of your friends, family members, and spouse, then you need to send exactly 5 bitcoins to the following address.  

  We have some bad news and good news for you. First, the bad news, we have prepared a letter to be mailed to the following address that details all of your activities including your profile information, your login activity, and credit card transactions. Now for the good news, You can easily stop this letter from being mailed by sending 2 bitcoins to the following address.  

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