Bitcoin bomb threats keep rearing their ugly heads from time to time, and this time the United States has been at the receiving end of such frightening, disruptive threats. Not to worry, however, as the police have declared these threats to be no more than a hoax. Yesterday, the NYPD or the New York Police Department tweeted a reassurance for the harried citizens of New York City. They acknowledged the fact that several people had received threatening emails from mischief makers, asking for payments in the form of Bitcoin. At the same time, they also wrote that they have conducted a thorough search of suspected areas and found no explosive devices that could pose a risk to the citizens.
Please be advised – there is an email being circulated containing a bomb threat asking for bitcoin payment. While this email has been sent to numerous locations, searches have been conducted and NO DEVICES have been found. pic.twitter.com/7omOs13Z7Q
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) December 13, 2018
The clarification from the NYPD went on to add the following reassurance:
“At this time, it appears that these threats are meant to cause disruption and/or obtain money. We’ll respond to each call regarding these emails to conduct a search but we wanted to share this information so the credibility of these threats can be assessed as likely NOT CREDIBLE.”
This threat was issued to cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Montgomery, Los Angeles etc. besides the New York City, prompting the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) to take note as well. They issued a statement too, promising constant attention and encouraging vigilance among ordinary citizens. They acknowledged the threats and said that they were on the alert for the possibility of an attack, however unlikely. They said:
“We are aware of the recent bomb threats made in cities around the country and we remain in touch with our law enforcement partners to provide assistance. As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety.”
Of the other affected cities, Los Angeles received a response from its police department as well. The LAPD noted that it was investigating the source and credibility of such threats and would update the public with relevant information as and when they came upon them.
A sample of the threat can be viewed from the Tweet sent out by Ryan Grant, an ordinary citizen who was one of the many that received such emails.
So I actually just got a bomb threat in my work email today ordering me to send the person $20,000 via bitcoin or they will blow up my place of work…. 2018 is wild pic.twitter.com/sn0vVLwe6v
— Ryan (@TheeRyanGrant) December 13, 2018
Many institutions including the office of The News & Observer, located in Raleigh, California, received such threats and expedited evacuations out of apprehension. According to a report from The Independent, around 13 locations in New York City was threatened to by the scammers.
Although Bitcoin is not inherently anonymous, there are ways to make Bitcoin transactions anonymous and this is the reason why hoaxers demand money in this form.Just like an Israeli teenager who had made a fortune by making Bitcoin bomb threats but got arrested thereafter, these attackers count on the ways to convert Bitcoin to cash anonymously.
However, thankfully, the bitcoin address specified in the threat mails still show 0 transactions, proving that no one has fallen prey to such demands yet. With the reassurance from the police department, we are sure the scammers will be held at bay.
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