Scott Buzo was checking email on his computer when one message stopped him in his tracks.
"I almost had a heart attack," Buzo said.
Buzo found an anonymous threat saying, "Hey, I know your password." Then it showed the password to his computer. After that, it went on, "Your computer was infected with malware."
The message claimed it had "full access and control" over Buzo's computer. It said unless he transferred "$1,200 with current bitcoin (BTC)," the hacker would expose private data and videos to all his contacts and post it on social media.
"Holy Cow, somebody just hacked into my life," said Buzo.
But other than the email, Buzo did not notice anything wrong with his computer. He ran anti-virus software and checked programs to see if he could find evidence of hacking. And while he didn't find anything, he still worried that the email showed his correct password.
"There's sensitive information on there about my entire family and me," said Buzo.
But privacy expert Eva Velasquez says Scott should not worry, "It should not be taken seriously."
Velasquez is the President and CEO of the San Diego based Identity Theft Resource Center. She says scammers want to get an emotional reaction from people because they are more likely to give up additional information or pay the ransom.
But that's not to say an email like the one Scott Buzo should be ignored.
"You need to go in and change all of your passwords," said Velasquez, "Because what that is telling you is that you have been a victim of a breach or compromised in some manner."