An emailed bomb threat hoax sent Thursday afternoon has terrorized businesses and organizations across the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Claiming to have planted bombs all over the building, the email demands ransom in bitcoin or the bombs will be detonated. The email extortion scam, which states “I advise you not to call the police,” appears to be getting out of hand after a number of institutions took it as credible and evacuated the area. Each email comes with a different bitcoin address, writes Brian Krebs.
The scam has so far been sent to financial institutions, banks, school districts, universities, newspapers and courthouses.
The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), part of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, is aware of the global campaign and advises recipients to not contact the sender, not pay the ransom and immediately inform the FBI about the bomb threat email.
Australia and New Zealand, who are also investigating bomb threat emails, are telling residents that it may only be “an opportunistic scam,” Reuters reports.
“Given the widespread nature of these malicious emails, we have reason to believe this to be a scam,” the Australian Cyber Security Centre said in an email to Reuters. “As a precaution, state policing agencies are treating these emails as a legitimate threat until confirmed otherwise.”
The Cedar Rapids Police Department appears to agree: “The Police Department has found NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE that these emails are authentic. It appears to be a robo-email that has been sent throughout the area hoping to scam businesses out of money. We have also received information that businesses in surrounding counties may have also received this email,” writes CNN.
“As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety,” said the FBI.