Recently, I heard of a new online scam where someone was frozen out of all their accounts (Facebook etc.,), and sent an email asking for ransom. But it wasn’t money the crooks wanted…it was Bitcoins. The woman was instructed to purchase a large amount of bitcoins, and deposit them into a special online account by a certain time in order to gain access to her accounts again. And if she failed to meet the deadline, the cost would increase.
Before going that route, the woman tried everything she knew…a computer whiz to unlock her sites, the advice of her daughter who was more versed in technology than she was, and even pleading emails to the people who sent them…all to no avail. She then proceeded to figure out how to purchase some bitcoins in hopes of getting her accounts freed up, only to find there was a glitch when she purchased them, and missed the “deadline” imposed by the people doing the blackmail. The ransom was then raised to another, much higher amount. At this point, she went to the police, I believe. Did she ever gain access back to her accounts? Probably not, which is the outcome of many online scams, unfortunately.
If you don’t know what bitcoins are all about, they’re the latest online currency, originally created to provide a safe way for people to purchase anything online…and in store. They’re an alternative to using PayPal, which also acts as an in-between account manager. You never have to worry about a company or person seeing your account information (and therefore, leaving yourself open to attack). But Bitcoin is not without problems, as rumors swirl online about it everyday.
If you’re interested in reading more about the state of cybercurrency and how it might (or might not) apply to you, we have a great new book in the library called THE AGE OF CRYPTOCURRENCY : HOW BITCOIN AND CYBERMONEY ARE OVERTURNING THE WORLD ECONOMIC ORDER by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey. I don’t think you need to be afraid of purchasing online, or of getting locked out of all your accounts, but it certainly puts a new spin on how we use the internet and how we try to keep our money safe.