The US government has recently acknowledged that bitcoin scammers have been sending out emails with bomb threats to various users, and advised victims to not pay the demanded ransom and report the situation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
According to a recent post, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) has revealed it’s aware of the bitcoin bomb threat email campaign, noting the sent out emails claim an explosive device will detonate unless a ransom is paid out.
As CryptoGlobe covered, the bomb threats caused evacuations across the US, and no evidence of explosives actually being present was found. These emails demanded $20,000 in BTC for the supposed bomb not to explode, and how the email threat spread isn’t clear. On microblogging platform Twitter, various users posted screenshots of these 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 William Grant (@TheeRyanGrant) December 13, 2018
In response to the threats, the NCCIC advised victims to avoid paying the ransom and contacting the cryptocurrency scammer. Instead, victims should contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, or head over to a local FBI office to report the situation.
The mayor of Washington, DC, Muriel Bowser, has also commented on the situation. Bowser confirmed she has been briefed by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on the situation, and that the threats are being investigated. Her statement reads:
MPD is investigating these threats with our federal law enforcement partners. This is an issue being reported in other cities nationwide and is not considered credible at this time. If you receive a threat or observe suspicious activity, please call 911.
Reports claim that the governments of Australia and New Zealand are also investigating bitcoin bomb threat emails some local residents received. According to Bleeping Computer, the scammers used various bitcoin addresses, presumably to avoid detection.
In one of the analyzed addresses there was an $18 payment, that may have come from a victim that may have believed the payment was supposed to be of $20 after confusing the period for a decimal point.
Per the outlet, a cybersecurity researcher named Defender has found that over 15,000 of these emails have been sent, and that they originated from Russia, with the majority coming from a specific IP range.