Fake threatening emails from authorities, so-called fake extortion emails, refer to a type of fraud in which the fraudsters claim that the people contacted have been found guilty of significant criminal misconduct and that the charges against them can be dropped only if they pay money.
The recipients of fake extortion emails are often accused of having consumed child pornographic material and are asked to email a written statement of reasons to the sender within a certain period of time. The victims are usually asked to pay bail in order to avoid arrest. The supposedly official appearance of the email is intended to try to convince the victims that the emails are actually from the law enforcement authorities. In most cases, the logos and stamps of fedpol, Europol, Interpol or a cantonal police force are used. However, the sender and documents are all bogus. Correspondence is via email addresses that suggest they are connected to the police, whereas they are actually private email addresses that have nothing to do with the law enforcement authorities.
Fake extortion emails are sent out using a scatter-gun approach to a large number of random recipients in the hope that some people will respond. The criminals seek to intimidate their victims into paying the ransom by threatening prosecution.