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. 

Tether Accounted for Over 80% of Bitcoin’s Trading Volume as its Premium Dropped

Tether’s USDT stablecoin has seemingly kept on dominating the cryptocurrency trading scene, as Bitcoin to USDT volumes have increased their market share from 70% in February to 81.7% of all BTC trading volume in March.

According to CryptoCompare’s March 2019 Exchange Review, Tether’ USDT has kept on dominating the stablecoin scene as well. This, as data shows 98.7% of Bitcoin’s trading volume against four top stablecoins – USDT, USDC, PAX, and TUSD – was represented by BTC/USDT trading pairs.

While BTC/USD trading pairs dominate the crypto-to-fiat trading volume, even these were dwarfed by BTC/USDT trading. While the monthly trading volume against the US dollar was of about 1 million BTC (around $5.2 billion) in March, against USDT the volume came close to 9 million BTC (nearly $47 billion at press time)

Bitcoin trading volume into fiat or stablecoinsSource: CryptoCompare Exchange Review

The stablecoin’s dominance even over fiat currency trading pairs may be related to a market share increase seen by pure crypto-to-crypto exchanges. These, according to CryptoCompare’s report, saw their volumes increase by 70% since February, to $267 billion. In contrast, exchanges offering fiat pairs saw their volume drop 8% to $58 billion in March.

It’s believed crypto-to-crypto exchanges are faster to see increased activity during market upswings, as cryptoasset capital inflows are faster and easier than fiat currency deposits on more regulated cryptocurrency exchanges.

While available data shows users could be showing increased confidence in Tether’s USDT, things may not be as clear. While several pieces of evidence have suggested the firm does have a dollar in reserve for every USDT in circulation, the company has quietly diluted its USD reserve claims in March.

CryptoCompare’s report shows that, interestingly, bitcoin to USDT trading has mostly grown on exchanges using the controversial Trans-Fee Mining (TFM) revenue model, which has been criticized as being a “disguised ICO.”

FCoin, one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges to adopt the TFM model, has seen its BTC/USDT trading volumes surges last month. CoinBene, as covered, has been the number one cryptocurrency exchange using the model, and seemingly led bitcoin to USDT volumes in March.

USDT trading volumes per cryptocurrency exchangeSource: CryptoCompare Exchange Review

Perhaps related to the increased volume on TFM exchanges is the increase in USDT premiums. Per the report earlier in March the premium got to 3%, meaning it cost an extra 3% to buy one bitcoin with USDT than with USD.

While the premium has since dropped to less than 0.5%, the rise may be traders factoring in the risk of trading in a stablecoin that has diluted its USD reserve claims, and on exchanges that incentivized larger trading volumes through a controversial revenue model.