As we reported earlier, Bitcoin brushed off the weekend sell-off and blasted above the $14,000 level as the Asian trading session got underway. There was no news to catalyse the move higher, although excitement and debate over the upcoming launch of Bitcoin futures on 10 December continues. One Bitcoin-related story did peak our interest, however.
It might be a sign that Bitcoin is becoming mainstream when blackmailers are prepared to accept the cryptocurrency as payment.
German tabloid, Bild, is reporting that this has befallen logistics company, Deutsche Post DHL. However, the recipients of two deliveries containing explosive devices had a lucky escape, as Bloomberg explains.
A criminal blackmailing Deutsche Post’s DHL parcel service demands EU10m in the digital currency Bitcoin, German newspaper Bild reports, not saying where it got the information. Blackmailer placed two bombs in parcels delivered by DHL; bombs didn’t detonate because of technical problems
Parcels included QR codes with links to extortion letter to DHL
Threatened to send further bombs
German Parcel Bomb Is Part of Extortion Plan Against DHL: Police
Handelsblatt provided more details of one of the bombs found in the eastern German city of Potsdam.
Authorities confirmed Sunday the apparent bomb found near the Potsdam Christmas market on Friday was unrelated to terrorism but an attempt to blackmail delivery company DHL. The package resulted in a large-scale evacuation of the market in Potsdam, near Berlin.
“The good news is that we can say, with all likelihood, the package was not aimed at the Christmas market,” Karl-Heinz Schröter, Brandenburg’s state interior minister, told reporters. “The bad news is that it was a blackmail attempt targeting DHL.”
The Potsdam package, containing nails, an unidentified powder substance and a metal cylinder, was sent to a nearby pharmacy as a special delivery. The store’s owner informed authorities after noticing unusual wires and hearing a hissing noise while opening the package. Police initially believed the package to be a fake bomb but, after forensic teams examined it, determined it was “capable of activation.”
The other bomb was found in a similar package in another eastern city, Frankfurt/Oder,last month. German officials warned that the blackmailers would “likely” send more explosive devices in the run-up to Christmas.
Of course, Bitcoin naysayers are likely to pounce on stories like this to dismiss Bitcoin as merely a mechanism for facilitating criminal activity. Indeed, Larry Finck of Blackrock dismissed it as a index to gauge worldwide money laundering, our old friend Neil Dwane, of Allianz Global Investors, described it as a “scam for money laundering around the world” and Jamie Dimon famously described it as a “fraud”.
In the meantime, the merits of Bitcoin as a means of payment and as investment continues. Yesterday, the CEO of ICE, which owns the NYSE, lamented that his organisation was “beaten to the punch” in trading Bitcoin futures by the CME and CBOE. As we noted, Jeff Sprecher told a Goldman investor conference on Tuesday that that “we may be stupid for not being first on that” adding that “I don’t have the answers, I wish I knew” how the investments will evolve, he said. “I don’t know what to make of cryptocurrencies.”
* * *