Breaking Story: Bitcoin Scammers Email Bomb Threats, Causing Evacuations Across The U.S.

Kevin O'Brien

Numerous evacuations have taken place across the United States on December 13th after scammers sent bomb threat emails demanding bitcoin payment to a number of businesses, companies, schools, and other entities, according to reports.

No Evidence of Explosives Yet

As of press time, authorities indicated there is not any evidence so far of any explosives detonating or actually being placed. However, police are asking people to remain vigilant as they work through the threats.

It is not yet clear how far the email threat has spread, but law enforcement in numerous jurisdictions across the country have released statements on social media and other outlets about the situation.

The Federal Bureau Of Investigation said it is aware of the threats and remains in contact with law enforcement across the country.

 

 

Speculation is the messages are robo-emails that were sent out in a group. The New York Police Department indicated on Twitter how it looks like they were sent to “cause disruption and/or obtain money."

 

 

Bomb Threats Asking For $20,000 In Bitcoin

A number of people on Twitter posted screenshots of the threatening email sent by the bitcoin scammers.

 

 

The email is printed in an article by Heavy.com.

It begins declaring that “my mercenary” has placed a bomb in “the building where your business is conducted” that would wound many people upon detonation.

In order to “call off my man,” a payment of $20,000 in bitcoin must be made to an address listed in the message. The scammer says the guarantee to not detonate “will become valid only after 3 confirmations in blockchain.”   

Different Versions Of The Messages

According to The Verge, there seem to be multiple versions of the email, some of which list a different type of explosive material.

The actual bitcoin wallet also looks to vary across messages. The Verge also wrote that it was able to confirm at least three wallets. It is not yet clear if anyone has actually paid the ransom. 

One Dollar or One Bitcoin? Which One Would a U.S. College Student Choose?

Siamak Masnavi

Around the beginning of this month, as a way of gauging young people's awareness of Bitcoin, one YouTube channel ("Capital Creators") conducted a very small informal survey of students at an American college. (This survey was first reported by crypto news outlet Bitcoinist earlier today.)

The students were asked just one question: "which would choose - one dollar or one bitcoin? ". The results of this survey might surprise you. 

At the time of this survey, one Bitcoin (BTC) was trading around $5,400. The survey took place on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Here is what the interviewer said to each student:

"So, right here, I have one dollar in my hand, and I also have one bitcoin on my phone in my pocket. If I were to give you one of these right now, which one would you accept?"

Amazingly (or not, depending on how widespread is the current public awareness of cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin in particular), most of these students voted in favor of the one dollar bill.

Here were some of their responses and the reasons for their answers:

  • "The dollar -- that's almost enough for [a pack] of Reese's." 
  • "The dollar -- I don't know much about Bitcoin, but I know much about dollars."
  • "Today, I want the bitcoin." When asked why, he replied: "Because I follow Bitcoin." (When asked if he had a way of receiving that bitcoin, the student replied "no", and that he would need set up an app first.)
  • "The dollar". Why? "Because isn't a bitcoin protected by a password and if you lose your password, you lose your bitcoin? I'm not going to lose the dollar."
  • "The dollar." Why? "Because currently I have 83 cents to my name, so I kind of want the dollar now... Also, Bitcoin is risky. If I were to invest, I would invest in something other than Bitcoin."
  • "The bitcoin -- that's just worth like five grand right now, isn't it?... I invested last year, right as it went up... I made like a thousand dollars in a week, and then I lost all of it."
  • "I'd take the dollar." Why? "Because I'm hungry, and I could use it on a vending machine." 
  • "The dollar." Why? "Because that [pointing to the one dollar bill held in the interviewer's hand] I know it's its value, and it's not going to change. It doesn't depend on other people, too."

Rather unsurprisingly, of the people who chose to have the dollar, none seemed to have even a rough idea of the price of Bitcoin. As for those very few people who said they would prefer to have the bitcoin, none had a crypto wallet of any kind, and so they were unable to receive any bitcoin even if somebody was offering it to them for free.

If you are HOLDing Bitcoin, there is no need to get too alarmed by the disappointing results of this little survey (it seems like fewer than 20 students took part in the survey) since during April 23–25, 2019, Harris Poll conducted an online survey (among 2,029 American adults) on behalf of Blockchain Capital.

The results, which were reported in a Medium blog post published on 30 April 2019 by Spencer Bogart, a partner at Blockchain Capital, showed that in the 18-34 demographic: 

  • "The percentage of people that have heard of Bitcoin rose from 77% in October 2017 to 89% in April 2019."
  • "... a full 60% described themselves as at least ‘somewhat familiar’ with Bitcoin — up from 42% in October 2017."
  • "Nearly half (48%)... ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree that ‘it’s likely most people will be using Bitcoin in the next 10 years’ — up 6 percentage points from October 2017."
  • "42%... said they are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to purchase Bitcoin in the next 5 years — up 10 percentage points from 32% in October 2017." 

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