Emailed Bomb Threats in Chicago Area Demand Money in Bitcoin: Police

In many of the incidents, businesses reported receiving an emailed threat demanding money in bitcoins

Police believe dozens of bomb threats that surfaced across the Chicago area and the country Thursday may be the result of an extortion or phishing scam. 

In many of the incidents, businesses reported receiving an emailed threat demanding money in bitcoins. 

The South Elgin Police Department received a report of a bomb threat at 12:49 p.m. in the 500 block of Division Drive in South Elgin, authorities said.

"The company had received an email stating that there was a bomb hidden in the building. The email further stated that the company was to send $20,000 to a bitcoin account by the end of the business day in order to stop the alleged threat," police wrote in a statement. 

South Elgin police said they became aware of "other area business communities receiving the same type of threat."

"It was learned that this incident is believed to be a phishing scam to many businesses throughout Kane County and the state of Illinois," the statement read. "Companies are encouraged to be aware of this type of incident and are encouraged to take due caution when dealing with this type of threat. Companies are further advised to contact their local police department for questions."

Similar incidents were reported across the Chicago area and in numerous other states. In Chicago alone, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said there were threats at a total of 36 locations. 

"Threats in Chicago are part of a similar pattern being made nationwide," Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted. "#ChicagoPolice are working with federal partners on the investigation, and at this time there is no elevated threat level for the city of Chicago."

Cedar Rapids Police in Iowa said several area businesses recieved "what appears to be a robo-email saying there is a bomb threat to their business unless they pay money in Bitcoins." Police there said they have found no credible evidence that the emails are "authentic." 

The email, according to the department, reads as follows:

Subject: Do not waste your time 

Hello. My man hid an explosive device (Hexogen) in the building where your business is conducted. My mercenary assembled the explosive device according to my guide. It has small dimensions and it is covered up very carefully, it is impossible to damage the building structure by my bomb, but in the case of its detonation there will be many victims.

My recruited person keeps the area under the control. If any unusual behavioror cop is noticed he will power the bomb.

I can call off my man if you make a transfer. 20.000 dollars is the cost for your life and business. Pay it to me in BTC and I warrant that I will withdraw my man and the device won't detonate. But do not try to cheat- my guarantee will become valid only after 3 confirmations in blockchain network.

My payment details (Bitcoin address): (REMOVED)

You must solve problems with the transaction by the end of the workday, if you are late with the money the device will detonate.

Nothing personal this is just a business, if you don’t transfer me the bitcoins and a bomb explodes, next time other companies will send me more money, because this is not a one-time action.

For my safety, I will no longer log into this email. I check my address every forty min and if I receive the payment I will order my person to get away.

If the explosive device detonates and the authorities see this letter:

We are not terrorists and dont assume any liability for explosions in other places.

Similarly, in DuPage County, Sheriff James Mendrick said a local business received an email that "demanded funds be sent electronically or an explosive device will be detonated in the business." 

"Any business or resident is asked to contact our office or their local law enforcement agency if they receive an email of this nature. At this time there have been no substantiated threats," Mendrick said in a statement. 

Aurora police confirmed they responded to three calls for bomb threats within 30 minutes at various locations including at Rush Copley Medical Center and City Hall.

"We believe these to be part of a nationwide series of bomb threats that appear to be part of an extortion/phishing scam. The bomb threats were all received by email and demanded money to be paid in Bitcoins," police said in a statement. "No bombs were found at any of the facilities and there were no injuries."

Across the country, there were reports of bomb threats in numerous states including Florida, New Jersey, Iowa, New York, Oklahoma and Massachusetts. 

An NBC affiliate station in Indiana, WNDU, was forced to evacuate due to a threat. 

"Thank you so much to all of the first responders who searched our building and made sure that it was safe for us to return," the station tweeted. 

The FBI said it was "aware of recent bomb threats made in cities around the country, and we remain in touch with our law enforcement partners to provide assistance." 

"As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety," the statement read. 

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