Amsterdam business owners are fearful after they received emails threatening to harm them if they do not pay an extortion fee in Bitcoin. The incident reported by the Netherlands publication, NLTimes, on October 31, 2018, reveals that the extortionists are asking for 50,000 euros in Bitcoins.
The extortionist threatened to spray a hail of bullets or plant hand grenades in the victims’ business premises. In the email, the extortionist refers to Amsterdam’s policy of closing businesses whenever an explosive or a shooting incident occurs.
A section of the email reads:
“You probably noticed how many entrepreneurs have had to close their doors recently by order of the municipality. To prevent you from being the next one, you must immediately t take action,”
Reportedly, the email was sent to Club ABE on Amstelstraat and at least three coffee shops since May 2018.
The email indicates that the payment, if not made within a week, the payment will double. And the drafter further continues that:
“If we do not receive the amount of 100k within 5 days, we will make sure that you can close your doors. This can be done by shooting a bullet into your facade or tying a grenade to the front door”
The drafter of the email then proceeds to instruct the victims of the extortion to open an account on either Coinmama or Coinbase. The victims are to buy bitcoins on either of the exchanges and transfer and have them transferred to a specific address.
The extortionist demands confidentiality and issued a dire warning against reporting the matter to anyone or the police. Failure to abide by the confidentiality warning, according to the email, the extortionist will ensure that the business doesn’t operate for 3 months. Furthermore, once the municipality allows the extortionist victim to open their premises, the extortion fee will quadruple to Bitcoins worth 200,000 Euros.
Ransomware, Not Violence
It is noteworthy that the Amsterdam incident is not the first incident of ransom extortion using cryptocurrencies. However, what makes the incident peculiar is that it involves the use of terror. Ordinarily, criminals have embraced ransomware to extort cryptocurrencies from individuals and business people. Actually, a study carried out by Cybersecurity firm Sophos reported that the inventors of the SamSam ransomware raked more than US$5.9 Million worth of Bitcoin since late 2015.