‘Moralists’, the Latest Extortionists to Begin Using Bitcoin

Posted in: Archive
February 25, 2016 3:28 PM UTC

Visitors and patrons of Switzerland’s largest strip club have received blackmail letters from self-anointed ‘moralists’, demanding $2,000 in bitcoin (approx 4.72 BTC)  or face ‘exposure’ with pictures of them visiting the strip club sent to their families.

Bitcoin ransoms aren’t going away anytime soon. Patrons of a Swiss strip club near Zurich have been sent letters that threaten to expose them unless they pay a ransom of $2,000 in bitcoin.

A copy of the letter was obtained by Swiss TV channel Tele Zueri and reported by NBC News.

The extortionist threat from the letters read:

We are moralists and you are our target. We hope that you are not suffering from amnesia, otherwise we need to jog your memory with a few photos…We will destroy your life, the way you did with others.

Speaking to the publication, the manager of the strip club ‘Globe’ in Schwerzenbach, near Zurich revealed that some 50 to 60 patrons of the nightclub received the letters. With no mobile phones or cameras allowed in the premises, the manager believes that the extortionists may have ascertained the identities of the victims by simply requesting the names of vehicle owners parked near the club from their license plates.

Zurich’s prosecutor’s office has confirmed that a criminal investigation is underway while Swiss media have also reported several other night clubs’ patrons being targets of similar extortionist attempts in recent weeks.

The news comes following a recent stand-off between extortionists and a Hollywood-based hospital that saw the latter crippled by a ransomware-malware. The standoff lasted a few weeks, before the hospital eventually gave in to pay a ransom of $17,000 in bitcoins.

Bitcoin has been also used during kidnapping incidents in recent years, with one particularly high-profile kidnapping of a Hong Kong business tycoon which saw a ransom of HK$13 million (approx. $1.6 million USD) in bitcoins. Bitcoin publications and exchanges aren’t exempt from DDoS-extortionists seeking ransom in bitcoin either. CCN.com was subject to one such threat, where we put our own bounty to help with information toward the identity of our extortionists. Prominent China-based bitcoin exchange BTCC was also subject to a similar DDoS attack. Both instances saw the ransom demands ignored. Encrypted email service provider ProtonMail was also targeted in a DDoS attack seeking ransom in Bitcoin and paid 15 BTC as ransom at the time. Banks in Greece and China have also been targeted by extortionists demanding ransom in Bitcoin.

While news of ransom-seekers taking up bitcoin isn’t anything new, the many ways in which extortionists adopting the cryptocurrency for criminal use often tends to foul bitcoin’s reputation.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Last modified: June 10, 2020 7:05 PM UTC

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Samburaj Das @sambdas

Samburaj is the Chief Editor of CCN.com, one of the earliest and foremost publications covering blockchain, cryptocurrency, and financial technology news. He has authored over 2,000 articles for CCN.com. Reach him at samburaj@ccn.com. Visit his LinkedIn profile here or his Muck Rack profile here.

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