back to article Send Bitcoin or we'll hate-spam you on Yelp, say crims

Businesses are being served printed 'Notice of Extortion' letters demanding Bitcoins to avoid 'severe and irreparable' damage to their reputation. A handful of US Pizza restaurants have reported the scam to local newspapers, and to Reddit. The letters appear to come from the same extortionist. The letters demanded payment of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this the Mt. Gox recovery plan?

  2. Steven Roper

    The solution is simple: The affected business owners notify Yelp of the extortion letters and the threats, then if their business receives a lot of negative reviews and should Yelp publish them, the business then sues Yelp for the amount demanded by the extortionists plus damages for loss of sales, on the grounds that Yelp is aiding and abetting criminal extortion.

    It's high time these so-called "business review" sites like Yelp were brought to account for this sort of thing anyway. While they do provide a useful service, the measures they take to prevent this kind of embezzlement are clearly inadequate.

    1. Chad H.

      >>>>>The solution is simple: The affected business owners notify Yelp of the extortion letters and the threats,

      And then Yelp suggest the business owner signs up to the UltimatePlatinumDiamondDeLuxe (tm) package where Yelp will remove those negative reviews....

  3. Richard Jones 1

    Best Ignored

    Reviews used to be useful though I was never really too keen on sites that existed only to host reviews. They are pretty much of a mine field.

    When you see pretty the same negative review posted for all the products produced by a company you have to wonder what is going on. This is especially so when you get 50 good reviews and one or two rubber stamp jobs that have 'doubtfully valid' comments.

    'Trap deviser' has been rousing the ire of many legitimate traders and frankly some negative reviews are almost impossible to reconcile with the places I know.

    Disclaimer, I am not a trader of any sort having been retired for 12 years.

    I do not want to be stung by a fraudulent trader, but neither do I want the task of finding something I need made more difficult by some brain damaged troll.

    Review sites need to filter their reviews to validate them as at least being honest.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Best Ignored

      See also for another view on the value of online reviews.


      "Tornado Guard: set up alerts for tornadoes in your area. Average 4.9 stars" Sounds good, and wow, 4.9 stars. Let's look at what they said:

      "5 stars, great interface, lets me set up loads of alerts"

      "5 stars, lots of good features"


      "5 stars, superb interface"


      "1 star, did not warn me about tornado"

  4. Peter Simpson 1

    Pizza Restaurants as extortion targets?

    That seems...inadvisable.

    // Vito and Tony here would like a woid wit youse...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unforeseen consequences

    A currency that can be transferred untraceably - what could possibly go wrong? Because of course it would only be used by enlightened libertarians to insulate themselves from the problems of government fiat money, never to facilitate crime. Yet a little thought shows that almost all the use cases where it's better than established currencies are criminal.

    Karl Marx thought he was going to bring happiness to the great majority of mankind too. I guess he just didn't know enough psychopaths to foresee what would actually happen when the proletariat came to power.

    1. 4bitsNnibbles

      Re: Unforeseen consequences

      ummm...transfers of large amounts of cash is still the preferred way of doing criminal bidness. Not sure I got your point...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unforeseen consequences

        At one time, carrying around lumps of gold and silver was the preferred way of doing business. And it's true that a popular means of criminal exchange (as used by at least one Irish PM in the last century) was for the recipient to go to the racetrack and get very lucky in a pile of bills. But is that really true nowadays? What's money laundering if it isn't the process of criminals converting illegally obtained csh into apparently legitimate investments?

        With increasing focus on anti-money-laundering methods, Bitcoin is an obvious next step.

    2. Christian Berger Silver badge


      "A currency that can be transferred untraceably"

      That's completely wrong. Bitcoin is based on the idea that everybody can see all the transfers. So you can trace them all. In fact if you take part in Bitcoin you have all the transactions stored on your harddisk. What Bitcoin Miners do is to certify those transaction.

      Bitcoin is in no way even hard to trace. The only thing is that bitcoin wallets don't have names directly pinned on them. By that standard you could also register a company and open a bank account for it.

      Again, Bitcoin is not anonymous, it's pseudonymous at best.

  6. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    Given the loose definition of terrorism...

    And that they are threatening using mercury to contaminate their restaurants, could the recipients of these letters forward them over to Homeland Security? It'd be nice to Guantanamo Bay used to imprison scammers rather than 'terrorists'. Funny how scammers have done more economic damage to America than terrorists, yet the government ignores one and spends trillions on the other...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Given the loose definition of terrorism...

      Scammers haven't caused economic damage. They may even be beneficial to the wider economy because they transfer money which is usually sitting idle into money which is being spent. Terrorists not only destroy assets, they make people fearful to go out (and to spend money).

      I'd still put the lot of them in a secure facility where they would be fed on brown rice and taught Buddhism, but that's because of the damage they do to individual human beings.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        Re: Given the loose definition of terrorism...

        I'm speaking from the perspective of the government, there have been numerous congressional hearings saying that scams have cost America billions and all that rot.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I get one of these every April :(

    Refreshingly direct approach. I got one of these the other day, but mine seems to be backed by an organisation with a monopoly on violence, so I don't think I'll have much luck ignoring it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I get one of these every April :(

      What, April First?

      Oh -- never mind.

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