Initial jitters sparked by the wave of awkwardly worded messages, threatening to set off explosives unless $20, were delivered in bitcoin, subsided within hours as some local authorities began. The U.S. government has confirmed the existence of bomb threat emails that demand bitcoin from organizations and suggested steps to take. The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration. Dec 13, · Apparent bitcoin scammers caused chaos across the US Thursday, radically escalating longstanding tactics. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images In offices and universities all .
Bitcoin bomb threatBitcoin bomb threats sweep U.S., Canada, but lack credibility | Reuters
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They assume the anonymous senders are international. Police said bitcoin bomb threats are a "well-known mass phenomenon," even if Tuesday's reports represented an unusual uptick. The incident is a stark reminder of cryptocurrency's appeal to criminals, owing to the irreversibility of transactions and the absence of any third party who can veto them.
The flip side is the public audibility of blockchains can help law enforcement track down perpetrators after the fact. Many of the recipients suspected a scam immediately.
Burns says that the language gave it away, as often happens with phishing emails and other scams. Other people in her department received slightly different wording, but all shared the same strange diction. Her director immediately emailed everyone to say that it was some kind of scam and that the university police were looking into it. To Mursch, the bomb-threat scam is both familiar and totally new. That's not just for the disruption it sows, but also in that it seems poorly thought out on the part of the criminals.
A violent threat, coupled with a request for a very high sum, will likely generate intense law enforcement scrutiny more than actual payouts. The sextortion scam works in part by being remotely believable and asking only for small amounts of money. For some people, it may be worth paying just to put the whole nightmare behind them. By Mursch's count, at least 15 different Bitcoin wallets tied to the mass threats have circulated Thursday.
As of pm EST, only two deposits had been made into any of them, with funds totaling less than a single US dollar. But money may not have been the point here. Newspapers , universities, gaming software companies , municipal buildings all were briefly evacuated.
If the main objective was general chaos, it worked.