North Reading Police Warn About Blackmail Scam


North Reading Police Department
Chief Michael P. Murphy
150 Park St.
North Reading, MA 01864

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, Nov, 28, 2017

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: [email protected]

North Reading Police Warn About Blackmail Scam

NORTH READING — It’s old meets new as a well-known scam recently targeted a North Reading resident.

Chief Michael P. Murphy reports that the North Reading Police Department is investigating after a resident received a typed letter in the traditional mail on Monday demanding a blackmail payment be made via the digital currency called Bitcoin.

Police indicate that it is a new spin on one of the oldest money scams going. The sender informs the resident that they have “evidence” about “the secret you are keeping from your wife.” The sender agrees to “forget all about you and let you get on with your life” in exchange for a $2,500 “confidentiality fee” that must be paid via Bitcoin.

“These types of scams all have one thing in common: a criminal threatens an unsuspecting resident, but promises that the threat can go away in exchange for money paid via a method that usually cannot be tracked and cannot be recovered,” Chief Murphy said. “Above all, please do not pay these people. These are fraudulent threats aimed at stealing your money.”

These scams have been around for many years and come in a wide variety of types and methods including:

  • Family member is in jail; bail money needed
  • Utility company threatening to turn off electricity, phones, gas, heat, etc.
  • Taxes owed to the IRS
  • Lawsuit pending
  • Family member is stranded overseas and needs money wired to them
  • Blackmail — “we know your secrets”

Scammers demand money via Western Union wires, pre-paid debit cards, gift cards, mailed cash, or Bitcoin in almost all cases. Scams can come in the mail, email, social media, or via telephone (landline or cell phone).

Similar letters were received by residents of other communities around the country.  In the North Reading example, it was a widely used form letter with the resident’s name added throughout to give the appearance of authenticity.

Chief Murphy urges all residents  to be vigilant with these types of scams and report them to your local police department.