back to article 'Bomb threat' scammers linked to earlier sextortion campaign

Yesterday's 'bomb scare' spam campaign may have been a follow-up to another infamous email extortion effort. Researchers with Cisco's Talos say that the rash of emails floated yesterday demanding that recipients pay a Bitcoin ransom or face the possibility of a bomb attack on their offices are simply an evolution of the scare- …

  1. Rustbucket

    ". . . the recipients building would blow up unless they sent $20,000 in Bitcoin."

    That's a lot more Bitcoins today than it would have been a month or so ago.

    1. Blank Reg Silver badge

      I think that is the real reason

      With Bitcoin heading towards its true value of 0, this is one way to drive the price back up. Any of these companies that actually decided to pay would have to buy Bitcoins. Why else would you ever buy them, it's not like you can spend them anywhere useful.

      1. Flywheel

        Re: I think that is the real reason

        it's not like you can spend them anywhere useful

        You need to use your imagination.. a lot more online suppliers accept them, physical not so much...

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: I think that is the real reason

          Overstock now takes them, in addition to the wide collection of drug dealers etc that were previously the main users.

  2. Mark 85

    Bomb threats are taken more seriously by law enforcement (which is why the FBI is involved) than sexual blackmail. Fed crime vs. local or state crime maybe. If they get captured, I expect many states will want piece of them before they ever walk the streets again. Or at least hope so.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Many years ago we received a visit from the FBI and an employee was interviewed for half a day and they went through her computer files, because someone had emailed a "threat" to a federal employee after he was accused of making sexually suggestive comments to her daughter. Apparently the threat was just a suggestion that he should be careful what he drank at a party ... I thought it was a joke but the FBI were taking it very seriously, much more so apparently that his comments to a 13 year old girl.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Bomb threats are taken more seriously by law enforcement"

      So are threats of acid attack. Make that kind of threat in the UK and you'll have the fuzz all over you like a badly fitting Microsoft jumper.

      1. Dr Dan Holdsworth

        There's a sporting chance that the people responsible for all of this are from a country where the law enforcement is patchy to say the least, unless someone big in the government is spurred into action. At this point the law enforcement reaction generally tends to overkill, with the emphasis on "-kill".

        Quite frankly I rather hope that this actually happens to a few of this gang. Random extortion like this really ought to be stamped upon if only to force the perpetrators to up their game somewhat.

    3. grumpybozo

      Laws will not be enforced in this case...

      The bomb threat spam all came from machines in a minor web-hosting network in Russia. Unless the sender is stupid enough to lave some sort of trail to their real-world identity from the BTC addresses AND travel to somewhere that US law enforcement can detain them (more places than just the US, but not including Russia) they need not worry.

  3. Nick Kew

    If we all followed your advice ...

    Don't pay any ransom demanded by an unsolicited email, and report all threats to an admin and/or the police. ®

    If we all reported all the crap coming our way, that could DDoS the police, perhaps so effectively as to preclude any resources at all for action against these or other malefactors.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so sure it's the same group

    I had forgot about that earlier campaign in July when I wrote my comment "While in the UK..." yesterday on the bomb threat article comments section.

    The mail I received yesterday was very similar in tone and phrasing as the one described in the July article, EXCEPT that they did not quote or pretend to know any of my passwords (and that the amount was lower)

    Either the bad guys are casting a wider net to reach the general population, or it's another group of copycats who don't have actually have any hacked database

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Not so sure it's the same group

      could just be "the same botnet" or one of a group of botnets.

      So finding the botnets' owners might be a good start... [yeah I'm sure they already are on this]

  5. arctic_haze

    The gang that could not shoot straight

    I still receive sextortion threats based on a throwaway password I used on the websites which quality I respected least (one of them was Yahoo which is the one I believe the password was stolen from). The spams seemed more fun than a threat.

    However the new idea of sending out bomb threats shows how stupid those people are. They upped their game from fraud to terrorism with all the expected legal consequences.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: The gang that could not shoot straight

      Quote: They upped their game from fraud to terrorism with all the expected legal consequences.

      And all the expected extra-legal consequences of course, and all the consequences where the legal profession is not involved at all (although the human rights people may complain that leveling 14 city blocks was perhaps.. a tiny bit over the top)

  6. Huw D

    There's a new one doing the rounds.

    Effectively "Someone has paid me to arrange for you to have acid thrown in your face. Pay me in BTC and I'll call off the attack"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It may make an improvement in my case. :(

      But the sad thing is, because of it really happening to some people, there is a fear that it will happen to all of us.

      I wish I could send a jar of my bravado when it comes to scam phonecalls/emails to other people for them to use. Until then, I can only say "pass me the phone, I will DEAL with them!"

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      I'd love to be able to reply, and have it read by the perps, something to the effect of "Bring it on, I'd _LOVE_ a good street fight!"

  7. Tom Paine

    1980s library art

    I enjoy the stock photos that illustrate the stories. When a computer can explain why they work when similar stock pics are a signifier of lameness, maybe AI will be real. anyway. The guy on the left is having a fag! Takes me back to my first job, where I had an ashtray on my desk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1980s library art

      "Takes me back to my first job, where I had an ashtray on my desk."

      In the 1980s a small company were eager to have my knowledge to fix their product. Being shown round the office - every person was smoking. One even had a cigarette and a pipe in his ashtray.

      That was something of an anachronism by that date. Big IT companies' offices had been like that a decade or so earlier - as had school staff rooms, buses, cinemas etc - but the health risks were now being recognised.

      I turned the job down. A wise move as the company folded soon after - and I doubt I could have saved them.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: 1980s library art

        "Being shown round the office - every person was smoking. One even had a cigarette and a pipe in his ashtray."

        I wouldn't have got past the door, would've been sneezing/headaches the entire time. _NO_ _WAY_ could I _EVAR_ work in an office with open smoking like that.

        (fortunately, the rest of the world has caught up, and you don't see that any more in any place I'm aware of)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: 1980s library art

          "I wouldn't have got past the door, would've been sneezing/headaches the entire time."

          Me too - and in the environment I worked before antismoking legislation in NZ some of the smokers went out of their way to be obnoxious.

          What did them in was their behaviour when the laws were passed - in the first round workplaces could vote on being smokefree or not and the abovementioned smokers went out of their way to be extra obnoxious, claiming it was "their right" - so much so that most of the other smokers joined the non-smokers in voting for 100% smokefree everywhere.

      2. Flywheel

        Re: 1980s library art

        "Takes me back to my first job, where I had an ashtray on my desk."

        Cue the obligatory More doctors smoke Camels video.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1980s library art

      At least the person's spectacles appear to have lenses in them, which is more than you can say for the usual Shutterstock stock images.

      "shutterstock_dumb.jpg" - Doh!.... yeah, you just realised what it was you forgot- to get some glass for your glasses.

      "Shutterstock_glum_kid.jpg" - Glum because she can't make out the screen any better than before she got her specs. For some reason.

  8. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    I suspect...

    Many office workers would welcome the distraction

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I suspect...

      I've seen some places where you would not be able to tell the difference on a before/after photo.

  9. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Dumb, dumber

    SPAM tactics will not work for a campaign which involves a physical threat big enough to hit the news.

    One of the reasons why previous extortion campaigns worked is that the recipients did not tell any one. The stupid ones paid, the smarter ones filed it in the rounded folder.

    In this case it hit the news and everybody realized it is a fluke within half an hour.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    i got one of those sextortion scams in the past week, they're still out there

  11. Wibble

    I raise you one acid attack or murder...

    Latest from the scumbags digging ever deeper into the cess... As received last week. Pretty nasty TBH.

    Amazing how fucked up these scammers are.

    Received: from unknown (HELO (


    I host a forum in the deep web, I perform all sorts of services - basically it is demolition to bussiness and injury. Basically, all but the homicide. Often main reasons are rejected love or competition at work. This month he talked me and set me the task of splashing acid in your visage. Standard order - fast, painfully, forever. Without too much fuss. I get money only after finishing the order. So, now I suggest you pay me to be inactive, I propose this to nearly all the victims. If I do not get money from you, then my performer will fulfill the task. If you give me money, besides to my inactivity, I will give you the information that I have about the customer. After finishing the order, I always spend the performer, so I have an option, to get $1700 from you for info about the customer and my inaction, or to receive $ 4000 from the customer, but with a high probability of waisting the performer.

    I’m getting money in Bitcoin, its my bitcoin address - 12Y12HNMtrBpKAudLBZNSjHFKVoHwW8wos

    The summary I told above.

    36 hours to decide and pay.

  12. DaveCummings

    I just replied to one, - would it help my toothache having said acid thrown in my face.... sadly it bounced back..

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