I was threatened today by email. Third time this particular threat has arrived in the past few weeks. Each time the message is roughly the same: send me bitcoins or I will expose you to your friends, family, and all email contacts.
The return addresses are always different. Sometimes the threat is that they have one of my passwords and in good faith, they reveal it. I immediately called my computer guru, Joseph Boy of Your Computer Solutions, who said he gets these messages also. Just delete them. He explained how the hacking trolls obtained that one password, but they haven’t actually wormed their way into my system.
Today’s email heading actually bore one of my own email address, which I didn’t notice until after I began reading the threatening email. That is part of the scare tactic: I can spoof your email and everyone will open this insidious note because they will think I am sending it. I’ve gotten many phone calls that spoofed a business name and even twice our home number said it was us calling, but this email got right to the point of trying to instill fear instead of just scamming me into buying their services.
This troll alleged he had remoted into my webcam and caught me watching porn. Send a $1000 in bitcoin or the world would see my scandalous activities. It was a much more detailed, longer message than ones I’ve gotten before, but still cautioning me against calling the police or trying to track the extortionist.
Sad news for them. I don’t watch porn and I don’t have a webcam.
I haven’t gotten the phone calls about family members in dire straits (send $$ immediately) or that the IRS was after me for not paying taxes and I needed to contact this number immediately or I’d go to jail. I haven’t gotten those calls, but I do personally know people who have.
The scare tactics work on many people. They are more unsettling than some Nigerian Prince has a fortune to leave me, or XYZ company in (usually) China is looking for a representative and even though I do not have any experience with what they’re seeking, I am the chosen recipient of what promises to be great business wealth.
I’m likely older than many of you reading this. I remember when this insistent pursuit of money at the expense of anxious victims-to-be didn’t initiate on the telephone or internet, or on unsuspecting innocents.
I want it to stop.
No one I’ve asked has answers except to delete the messages, hang up the phone, or just don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. The latter works with our home phone but not my business number because I don’t know from where my next client will emerge.
I don’t get the greed, animosity, mind games, and scare tactics. A couple days ago I discovered a troll had given me a nasty review that appeared on a search site next to my website name ( I’ve never heard of this person, let alone read him. I have other business friends who have had this occur and the unwarranted negative comments nearly ruined their respective businesses. I’ve read that people are paid to write, stalk or troll businesses by a competitor who must not otherwise be able to obtain a steady clientele on their own merits.
I don’t have answers. Just questions on why people go out of their way to do harm. I don’t want to believe this is the new normal, so maybe they are just people with morally-bankrupt souls. Either way. I want it to stop.
We all must want this to stop.
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is an active member of ILEA and MPI and is now serving on the 2016 – 2020 MPI Global Advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine for the third consecutive year. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events.;; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.

2 replies
  1. Lisa Riley Kovach
    Lisa Riley Kovach says:

    These threatening emails and calls are really out of control, and they do nothing but make me angry. I think that I deleted five of them today and ignored over six phone calls that were obviously spoofed. I read the the FCC is finally going to get involved this year so, I will be hopeful that with our technology that we can counter-act these pirates.

    • karen kuzsel
      karen kuzsel says:

      Am sorry you are going through this. I have had 4 more threatening emails in past couple days, repeating the exact same wording as the previous ones. It’s easy for me to ignore the spoofed calls on our home phone (we are undoubtedly among the minority who still have a landline) because i rarely answer it unless i know the number or if they have left a message (which is rare). It’s a nuisance and i can’t figure out why these antics are worth their time and then I’m reminded of how many uneducated people pay them from fear or guilt or just to make them go away. I’m with you. Hope our younger generation of techies can figure out how to stop them.


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