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Email hoax tries to extort thousands from businesses

A national bomb threat led to wide-spread building evacuations throughout the country.

The email highlights just how easy extortion scams are to pull off on the internet. It also shows how easily authorities can identify suspects.

A national threat

The email was sent to schools, businesses and individuals demanding a payment of $20,000 in Bitcoin. If the reader did not pay, the sender would detonate a bomb planted in their building.

The sender intended to hit a wide audience for as much exposure as possible. Authorities were quick to dismiss the emails as a hoax but many businesses and schools still evacuated for the day.

Ease of extortion

The anonymous email shows how easy it can be for extortionists to target specific people. The email addresses were most likely bought off a list or taken from public websites.

While the extortion attempt was successful in disrupting people’s days, it appears to have generated very little money. The FBI estimates that total payments to the demands were less than $1.00.

The speed of consequences

People on the internet are already working parallel to the FBI in identifying these would-be extortionists. Technology has narrowed the email addresses used to servers in Russia, and the FBI is working on finding the specific location.

The incident demonstrates how fast consequences come to those who attempt digital extortion. Law enforcement has sophisticated technology to catch those behind these kinds of attacks. The internet also makes it easy to identify suspects, as anyone can help.

No small matter

A charge like extortion is not small. It involves massive monetary penalties and potential for a large stint in prison. Someone should never take it lightly.

If law enforcement charges someone you know with attempted extortion, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney should be their first call.

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