Dutch police are responding to a spate of letter bombs sent to offices across the country as part of a Bitcoin extortion plot.
On Thursday, a letter bomb caused a small explosion at an ING Bank office in Amsterdam, Reuters reports. Just hours earlier, authorities disarmed one delivered to an office of US tech firm Unisys, located near Utrecht.
The incidents follow the explosion of two letter bombs on Wednesday, one at ABN Amro bank’s Amsterdam mail-sorting office, and another in the Kerkide mailroom of Japanese electronics firm Ricoh, close to the Germany border.
Luckily, nobody was harmed in any case.
Bitcoin extortion plot tied to January’s letter bombs
Authorities said Wednesday’s packages had not been similarly labeled. They urged mail recipients should be cautious of thick white envelopes sent with two stamps, and have a printed piece of white paper with the delivery and return addresses in plastic attached.
The running police theory connects the bombs not only to each other, but to a similar campaign that threatened businesses across the Netherlands in January. The person sending them reportedly makes ransom demands for undisclosed amounts of Bitcoin BTC cryptocurrency.
Exactly what the Bitcoin extortionist is demanding in their ransom note is yet to be disclosed, but it seems they threaten to continue sending letter bombs until they receive payment.
No clear line seems to connect the bomber’s targets, either. While this week has indeed seen two banks hit, January’s incidents included letter bombs sent to a real estate agent, a car dealership, a gas station, and two hotels, however none of those actually detonated.
In fact, this week’s letters are the first to actually go off, after police successfully intercepted all other packages in time. Wednesday’s explosives were reportedly only the size of small fireworks, and would cause nonfatal injuries to anyone who might be handling them.
There was also a third suspicious package found at an ABN Amro branch in Maastricht on Wednesday. The New York Times reported that an employee called police after coming across a “weird looking” parcel, but all it contained was a non-threatening computer mouse.
Published February 13, 2020 — 14:38 UTC