DA Gascón Warns Public About Cyber Extortion Scam Affecting Small Business Owners in SF
News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2018
CONTACT: ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931 | NIKESH PATEL (415) 734-3205
DA GASCÓN WARNS PUBLIC ABOUT CYBER EXTORTION SCAM AFFECTING SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS IN SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, District Attorney George Gascón alerted the public about a recent email extortion scam affecting San Francisco restaurants. Specifically, scammers threaten to spread false and negative information about restaurants unless their owners pay them money.
“Using threatening emails and coercive measures to extort money from small business owners and local restaurants is egregious,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “An effective strategy for preventing these scams is helping potential targets identify and avoid them before they can even occur.”
According to reports, scammers attempt to intimidate restaurant owners with false and damaging reviews to extort money from them. In one incident, a scammer used a negative press release as part of their cyber extortion ploy. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office is working in tandem with The Golden Gate Restaurant Association to raise greater awareness about these scams.
"Unfortunately we live in an era where internet extortion, fake bills, and phishing scams targeting small business owners are common," said Gwyneth Borden, the Executive Director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. "At the GGRA, we make it our mission to help identify these pain points, alert the community, and provide solutions for avoiding scams and we are grateful to the District Attorney's Office for bringing broader attention to this critical issue."
Cyber extortion schemes and coercive emails are a criminal offense. Although some victims of these scams are based in San Francisco, scammers are operating from beyond our jurisdiction. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office wants to remind small business owners and local restaurants in San Francisco to be alert of extortion emails. If you think you are a victim of an email extortion scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) immediately. Contact the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office’s Consumer Mediation Hotline at (415) 551-9595 or the San Francisco Police Department if you have additional questions or concerns.