Wave of bomb threats was cryptocurrency extortion hoax

EDITOR'S NOTE: As the hoax emails continue to be delivered, we will update this story with new information as it comes in.

10:35 a.m. UPDATE Detroit Police tell us they have received five more threats of the same nature this morning. That includes three hospitals: Detroit Receiving, Harper Hospital, Children's Hospital of Michigan. The 36th District Court and Frank Murphy Hall of Justice also received threats and were evacuated. DPD said they investigated four of the locations and no devices were found.

Police said the threats were similar in nature to the ones received on Thursday.

Original story:

The wave of bomb threats across metro Detroit - and the country, even - Thursday were a hoax, a high-stakes ploy to make easy money. The FBI is working to find out who was behind it.

FOX 2's camera was rolling as 36th District Court in downtown Detroit was evacuated. It was one of several buildings that took the precaution after receiving a bomb threat via email, demanding thousands of dollars in cryptocurrency.

"I was in a meeting and I didn't know what was going on, I thought it was a fire alarm," said Jenni Blevins, who works in the Guardian Building. "I didn't realize it was bomb threat until we were already downstairs heading to the riverfront."

From Ann Arbor, to West Bloomfield to Farmington Hills, cities throughout metro Detroit and the state reported multiple bomb threats.

"A bunch of businesses received emails requesting $20,000 in Bitcoin and if they didn't receive it, there were bombs in the building," said Sgt. Chad Double, Farmington Hills police. "I've never seen anything that big of an area, that massive, that quick."

Businesses and organizations around the country received the bomb threats Thursday at all roughly around the same time.

"There have been so many data breaches, so many different compromises," said David Derigiotis. "So many exposures of people's emails all over the world that all somebody really needs to do is get a list, you download it and you upload into a system and you fire out all of these spam messages and that's exactly what we're seeing here."

Cyber risk expert David Derigiotis from Burns & Wilcox says for better or worse, this is the new normal.

"We're going to continue to see more of this as we operate online, as we shop online," he said.

All of the buildings that received threats in our area were cleared--there were no bombs inside.

Our cyber risk expert says it's easy to fall prey to these scams if you're using one email address for all of your online activities.