Blackmailers threaten to release EBOLA unless paid one million euros in Bitcoins
by Damien Gayle
Blackmailers have threatened to release the deadly Ebola virus in the Czech Republic unless its government pays them one million euros in Bitcoin.
- Bond villain-style threat issued via email to Czech government and press
- Bitcoin online payments are untraceable and impossible to reverse
- Czech police and health officials say they're not taking the threat seriously
The Bond villain-style threat was issued by anonymous emails to the highest offices of the Czech government which were then passed on to the Czech media.
The blackmailers' demand warned that failure to comply with 'any of our requests will lead to the spreading of the infected material in Prague and other cities. 'If you don't answer this letter, we will send press releases to media and inform people on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to let them know how negligent the Czech offices are.'
The blackmailers claim they have the Ebola virus from Liberia and they are ready to spread it if they do not get one million Euros. They instructed officials to divide the money into three payments. The first was supposed to be paid on Monday, a second on Wednesday, and a third after they hand over the infected material.
Bitcoin is an electronic currency often preferred by blackmailers because it allows them to receive funds that cannot be frozen or reversed by conventional methods once they have been sent. Known as a 'cryptocurrency' because it uses strong encryption to secure transactions, it also provides anonymity. The blackmailers can be almost anywhere in the world to receive the cash.
Czech police have not cooperated with the demands and have said they are not taking the letters and blackmailing very seriously.
'We have been investigating the case as a blackmailing,' said Czech police president deputy Zdenek Laube.
'The anonymous individual has blackmailed the Czech Republic by claiming they will spread the Ebola virus in public places.
'The only intention of the blackmailers is to cause a panic.'
According to Czech detectives the blackmailers used very sophisticated means of communication, making it difficult to trace them.
If found guilty they may be sentenced up to 12 years of jail.
Chief sanitary officer Vladimir Valenta said: 'Spreading the Ebola virus is not very probable in Czech Republic.' He also said that possible transport of the virus to the Czech Republic is not very realistic and that the Czech climate 'excludes massive Ebola spreading'.
Czech Prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka also commented: 'This is a shocking misuse of the current public concern over Ebola in Europe.'
'The police are investigating the case. The government doesn't want to underestimate the situation but we don't want to overestimate it though.'