The county was apparently among innumerable targets of the international Bitcoin bomb threat scam on Dec. 13, 2018, according to Tuesday night’s meeting of the Livingston County Information and Technology Committee. Jon Sear, the county’s network and computer systems administrator, gave an update about the situation, confirming that it was part of the widespread scam.
“On Dec. 13, that was when the bomb threat emails started going out,” he said. “We had someone in the county get two or three of the emails and they called 911, so I had to help them get the information so we could get it to the state and (the Department of Homeland Security).”
When asked about the nature of the emails, Sear reported that “it was a threat that basically said that ‘There’s a bomb in your building, and if you don’t send me $20,000 in Bitcoin, I’m going to set it off.’ Nothing ever happened, it was just everyone got scared — which I understand, but it was all a scam.”
According to the Associated Press report on the happening, the emails were sent to “hundreds of schools, businesses and government buildings across the U.S.” which “triggered searches, evacuations and fear — but there were no signs of explosives, and authorities said the scare appeared to be a crude extortion attempt.”
It is unclear if the scammers made away with any money; however, another Bitcoin grift over the summer where scammers claimed to have hacked people’s webcams and took compromising video of them while they watched pornography netted the swindlers upwards of $500,000.
Sear said that the buildings that were purportedly targets of the scam were evacuated and that the Livingston County Sheriff’s Police was there within 10 minutes to make sure that there was no real chance of a bomb being present, adding that this had “never happened before.”
“It’s something new, part of the new scam email that went out,” he said. “There were, I think, 50 or 60 of them that happened in Illinois, and it was nationwide. Most of them in the state were up in the Chicagoland area.”
The network and computer systems administrator said that he’d received a report from DHS and that they were still investigating, though they hadn’t yet determined who the perpetrators might be.