December 14, 2018 10:13 am
Updated: December 14, 2018 3:11 pm

Bomb threats demanding bitcoin hit Australia, New Zealand; police call it a ‘scam’

WATCH: Bomb threats demanding Bitcoin investigated across Canada, U.S.


Law enforcement agencies in Australia and New Zealand are investigating bomb threat emails received by some residents, cyber security officials said on Friday, after similar threats were made in the United States and Canada.

READ MORE: ‘It becomes a nightmare’: the rise of the viral bomb threat and how it makes the job of police harder

“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,” it said, without giving details about the contents of the emails.

WATCH: Goodale calls string of bomb threats ‘extraordinary set of circumstances’

New Zealand’s CERT NZ said earlier police were working to confirm the validity of the threats, although they were likely to be an “opportunistic scam.”

The emails claimed a bomb would be detonated unless an amount of ransom was paid in bitcoin, it said.

WATCH: Calgary police call widespread bomb threats a hoax

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A rash of bomb threats were emailed to hundreds of businesses, public offices and schools across the United States and Canada demanding payment in cryptocurrency but none of the threats appeared credible.

The RCMP said in a statement Thursday evening that it is aware of threats sent via email in which the sender threatens to detonate a bomb if the cryptocurrency ransom is not paid.

“If you have been the recipient of one of these email threats, do not respond to the Bitcoin demand,” the police force said on Twitter.

“Exercise caution, remain alert and immediately contact your local police.”

South of the border, many law enforcement agencies dismissed the threats, saying they were meant to cause disruption and compel recipients into sending money and were not considered credible.

*with files from Global News

© 2018 Reuters

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