Bitcoin scammers are sending out bomb threats to businesses, schools, and other locations in Canada, the US, New Zealand, and several other English-speaking countries across the world, causing numerous evacuations and law enforcement investigations, The Verge is reporting.
Although there is no evidence yet of any actual explosives being placed or detonated, the scammers are demanding bitcoin in exchange for not detonating the supposed bombs. In one such email, the sender demands $20,000 in bitcoin by the end of the day, while threatening to have a “recruited person” detonate the bomb if he sees any police activity.
We are aware & investigating email threats that were sent to multiple businesses in communities throughout Manitoba. #rcmpmb is determining the origin & validity of the threats. Investigation is ongoing. Updates to follow.
— RCMP Manitoba (@rcmpmb)
WPS is investigating a number of bomb threats that have been sent to local businesses email accounts.
Businesses are spread throughout the city. Similar threats have been made in CAN and the US. WPS is taking these threats seriously but none have been substantiated.
— Winnipeg Police (@wpgpolice)
Most of the threats name a specific explosive, but the explosive varies between messages. Common choices include tetryl, trinitrotoluene (TNT), and hexogen. The bitcoin wallet where the ransom money is to be sent also varies between messages.
“If the explosive device detonates and the authorities see this letter: We are not terrorists and don’t assume any liability for explosions in other places.” The messages include a bitcoin wallet address; it’s not yet clear how many people — if any — have actually paid a ransom.
We still don’t know exactly how far this email has spread, but police departments across the US and parts of Canada have now posted about the threats. “They’re coming in really fast. I have no idea how many reports our folks have taken,” a Cedar Rapids Police Department spokesperson tells The Verge.
The Ottawa police have also tweeted that they are currently investigating numerous bomb threats and have urged the recipients of such email threats not to respond to any bitcoin demands.