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Cryptocurrency scammers target schools, hospitals, government offices with bomb threats

Email claims recipients have a bomb in their building and must pay USD $20,000 in BTC to avoid detonation


A dangerous email scam appears to be targeting businesses, schools, hospitals, and government buildings across the US in an attempt to extort bitcoin (BTC) with a bomb threat.

A spokesperson for the FBI provided TNW with the following statement:

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.

What you need to know:

It appears the threat is being sent via email as a cryptocurrency extortion scam. One Twitter user took a screenshot of a suspicious email they believe to be related to the ongoing investigations:

TNW has yet to confirm the veracity of this user’s claim, but local news sources across the country are reporting seeing similar emails.

Luckily it appears as though the demands are a hoax. We weren’t able to connect the cryptocurrency wallet address in the above email to any transactions, and law enforcement agents searching buildings where threats have been reported have so far found no explosives.

However, as the FBI warns, it’s still important to take any bomb threat seriously and to report suspicious activity or emails to the authorities immediately.

In related news, an unknown person called in a bomb threat to Columbine High School earlier today in Colorado. Authorities are unsure if this threat was related to ongoing extortion scams, but the threat was later declared false.

NBC News reports authorities continue to investigate bomb threats in Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and California. And a quick Google search for “bomb threat” shows an ever-increasing list of cities spanning the nation reporting more of the same.

In the meantime, we again urge anyone receiving a threat to consider it credible until a law enforcement agent specifically gives them directions otherwise. It’s worth keeping in mind that dozens of investigations across the country remain ongoing. It doesn’t matter how many are false threats if one of them isn’t. Stay vigilant and be safe.

We’ve requested more information from the FBI and will update this story as necessary.

Published December 13, 2018 — 22:52 UTC