Bitcoin bomb threat goes global as scam expands to Canada

Saturday, 15 Dec, 2018

A wave of bomb threats emailed Thursday to hundreds of schools, businesses and government buildings across the USA triggered searches, evacuations and fear - but there were no signs of explosives, and authorities said the scare appeared to be a crude extortion attempt.

Calgary police received multiple threats Thursday afternoon, but said investigators did not believe any were credible.

Police in Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg, as well as RCMP detachments in B.C. and Manitoba, are all investigating multiple threats.

In order to "call off my man", a payment of $20,000 in bitcoin must be made to an address listed in the message. They responded to 15 incidents, but believe there are many more who received threats.

The NYPD investigated several locations receiving a threat, as did the police in Oklahoma City, Washington, D.C., and locations in Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Idaho, and Maryland.

A bomb threat in the area of Toronto's King subway station caused officials to evacuate passengers just before 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Police departments in several Canadian and USA cities said on Twitter that the threats include a demand for payment in bitcoin currency.

All of Thursday's e-mails demand bitcoin payments, but police say all threats have been deemed unfounded.

Per Wired, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is "working with United States law enforcement" on the case, with Oklahoma police stating, on Twitter that "no credible threat [has been] found at this point". Given the mass distribution of these bomb threats, that's likely to mean a lot of incoming calls and messages. People in the center self-evacuated so quickly that some had to jump out of the swimming pool and spend the better part of two hours waiting nearby in bathrobes.

"The thing to remember is, if you receive an email like this, if they give no specifics, nothing that actually convinces you, no credibility, then it's a scam", Hamer said.

Local police also reported bomb threats made to several businesses in Regina and Saskatoon.

Some of the emails have the subject line "Think Twice".

The Vermont State Police and local police departments have responded to the locations "by doing what is necessary to make sure no device is going off", Silverman said.

As noted by The Verge, a number of police departments are alerting the public to a particularly treacherous scam that has targeted users all across the US.

Hello. My man hid an explosive device (Hexogen) in the building where your business is conducted. Penn State University noticed students via a campus alert.

"It appears to be a hoax, but we are not taking any chances", Brabant said.