Multiple businesses in Amsterdam have been threatened with terror-like attacks if they fail to pay extortionists 50,000 euros in Bitcoin (BTC), reports local media that have cited police confirmation.
According to NLTimes, at least three coffee shops and a local Club have received such an email that was first sent in May this year.
The emails demand that the recipient pays the stated fee in bitcoins, failure to which, the business would be targeted with hand grenades will or come under a gun attack.
The main threat appears to be that the attacks would force the businesses to close down, which is the policy of the Amsterdam municipality- to close down a business that comes under a shooting or on one that contains explosives on the premises.
Part of that email that has seen business owners fear for the worst 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 take action.”
Details of the threat received by email
The threatening email instructs the recipients to complete the payment via one of two crypto exchanges: Coinbase or Coinmama.
According to the instructions, the targeted business owners should first open an account on any of the two exchanges. After that, they will have to buy the bitcoins worth 50,000 Euros and transfer the coins to a given address.
Once this is done, the authors promise to leave the businesses alone, saying that the victims would “never hear from [them] again.”
The extortionists give the business owners a week to complete the transfer. However, if the owner fails to make the payment within a week, the attackers will double the amount and give the business another five days.
Failure to honor the instructions for the second time will see the attackers make good on their word, the email says.
The emails also demand that the recipients maintain confidentiality, warning the businesses against making any report to the authorities or sharing the information with any other person.
The criminals also state that should they establish that the police know about it, then they would take immediate action and the business would shut down for at least three months.
But that would not be all, because immediately the business reopens; they would make another demand, this time quadrupling it to bitcoins worth 200k euros.
So far none of the business that received the emails has been attacked, with a legal representative for the coffee shops saying none of them had paid the extortion fee as demanded.
The news article says that there have been several incidents relating to hand grenades being left at businesses in Amsterdam since the beginning of 2017. And with such incidences now directly linking to the municipality policies, authorities have moved to change its approach regarding the closing of businesses.
Extortionists have always sought ways to scam businesses to get money from them, and in the last few years, Bitcoin has become one of the most preferred payment methods for ransom.
In most of the crypto extortion cases, criminals rarely resort to threats of using violence or other terror-related activities.
Instead, the use of ransomware is the most commonly preferred method of payment, with one case- the SamSam scheme – allegedly generating over $6 million for the creators of that infamous scheme.
Another example is the WannaCry cryptoworm ransomware that targeted computers on the Microsoft Windows OS. The creators demanded ransom payments in Bitcoin and infected over 300,000 computers.
However, as rare as they may be, attacks or threats of physical attacks can happen. A Norwegian crypto mining company, Kryptovault, received a bomb threat in July after neighbors complained about the excessive noise emanating from the mining rigs.