An emailed bomb hoax extortion campaign that is making the rounds in the United States, causing concern among users and disruption at workplaces and schools, has arrived in New Zealand.
The New Zealand government computer emergency response team (CERT NZ) advised users that the messages are most likely an opportunistic scam, but encouraged recipients to call the police neverthless.
Users should not pay the ransom and keep the messages as evidence for the police, CERT NZ said.
The messages claim that an unknown person directed a "man" or a "mercenary" to assemble a small bomb with tri-nitro-toluene (TNT) or hexogen as the explosive ingredients inside the victims' buildings.
Unless US$20,000 is sent to a Bitcoin address, the extortionist says the "mercenary" will detonate the bomb, causing structural damage.
The extortionist also said the "mercenary" and "recruited person" is keeping the target building under "control" and will set off the bomb if he notices any "unnatural behaviour, panic or cop [sic]."
On social media, the New York Police Department advised recipients of the emails that their searches on numerous locations have turned no bombs and that the messages are bogus.
"Please be advised - there is an email being circulated containing a bomb threat asking for bitcoin payment. While this email has been sent to numerous locations, searches have been conducted and NO DEVICES have been found.
At this time, it appears that these threats are meant to cause disruption and/or obtain money. We’ll respond to each call regarding these emails to conduct a search but we wanted to share this information so the credibility of these threats can be assessed as likely NOT CREDIBLE," the NYPD said.
Earlier this week, Penn State University Police said they were investigating extortion spam with the bomb threat being sent to multiple individuals in several campus buildings at the academic institution.
The extortion emails follow a spate of "sextortion" messages sent out to internet users, that demand money or the blackmailer will send out a compromising video recorded via the webcam on victims' malware-compromised computers.
While the current bomb hoax campaign does not appear to have netted the extortionists any funds, the prior one saw people pay thousands of dollars to the criminals.