Blackmail letter scam hits central Virginia

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NBC 12 – CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Viewers all across the metro are calling NBC12 concerned about a blackmail letter threatening to expose cheaters.

The letters advise you to pay a $2,000 "confidentiality fee" to avoid the whole world knowing about your infidelity. Business experts say, however, to not fall for it.

The Better Business Bureau says the people behind the letters are trying to hook you into a scandal by sending blackmail letters from Chesterfield to Henrico.

"I had been at the park walking the dog and just came home and grabbed the mail," said Johnell Ashe of Henrico.

That's when she got an anonymous letter addressed to her husband.

"As I read, I was like ... WHAT?!"

The letter claims her husband is stepping out of the marriage, but "$2,000 will close the books on that," she said, reading the letter.

It invited her to head to a website called BitCoin to pay the money and avoid being exposed.

"I laughed.  I thought they got the wrong guy, really got the wrong guy," Ashe said.

So she called NBC12.

"'I'm not trying to break your bank. I just want to be compensated for the time I put in investigating you,'" she said, reading the letter.

It turns out the same letter was sent to multiple families all across the area. A Chesterfield woman who doesn't want to be identified says the writer wanted the money with 10 days of receipt or the salacious secrets will be spilled.

"These are coming from heaven knows where and they're getting money from you and it's going heaven knows where … By all means, call the police, call the postal inspector, call the FBI," said Tom Gallagher of the BBB.

Most importantly, he says don't fall for it.

"This is what they do for a living, and they're very, very good," Gallagher added.

"Well, they wasted what 44 cents or whatever a stamp is these days," Ashe said.

Because she's not buying it.

"Oh no, no … If you are having an affair on your wife, please tell her … Even if that were the case, you don't want to pay a blackmailer $2,000," she said.

The BBB says never engage with people who send letters like this or call with this kind of information.

If they call you, hang up. If they point you to a website, don't bother. Once they know you're remotely concerned, they'll continue to prey until they get a bite.