Police are issuing advice after people have reported receiving malicious emails.

The sender of these emails claims to be in possession of explicit videos of the victim, and threatens to distribute these among the victim’s family, friends and colleagues unless a ransom of approximately $2,500 of Bitcoin – a popular cryptocurrency – is sent.

Police say that anyone receiving a blackmail message of this sort should not reply, nor should they part with any money.

Six investigations are currently under way in Suffolk and Norfolk after emails were received by people in Woodbridge, Haverhill, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Thetford and Kings Lynn between Tuesday 10 July and Wednesday 18 July. Fortunately, the six victims in these cases did not send any money.

Police wish to assure members of the public that no reports have yet seen the threat carried out in the event of non-payment of the ransom.

The latest emails are different to common phishing emails in a number of ways:

The English is good
The email contains an example of a password used by the victim
The email contains a lot of detail
There is a follow-up email sent after the 24 hour deadline for payment

It is considered likely at this stage of the investigation that the passwords have been obtained via a historic leak of data from an as-yet-unknown website; therefore it is strongly recommended that members of the public change their passwords to all online accounts.

Although it is not suspected at this time that data has been obtained by way of malicious software, a good security measure would be to ensure that all internet connected devices are equipped with anti-virus and anti-malware software set to frequently scan for problems.

Officers are urging anyone who receives a message of this sort not to pay the ransom or reply to the email. Please instead call police on 101 or, alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their anonymous online form at crimestoppers-uk.org