An extortionist has been following through on threats made against the earliest adopters of Bitcoin — including an ALS patient whose last days were spent dealing with these threats — Wired reports.
In March, a hacker going by the names of “Nitrous,” “Savaged,” and “Clerk1337” contacted Roger Ver and threatened to post his personal information online if he did not receive 37.63289114 bitcoins — exactly $20,000.
“I think we both know this won’t be pleasent [sic] and let’s be honest: there is nothing you can do to have me caught. I’ve been around too long,” Nitrous wrote. Ver responded by posting the following on Facebook:
Nitrous responded to the counter-threat by telling Ver that “no one knows who I am,” and that “I just need to raise funds for my mother, but since you aren’t going to help, all your passwords are: Nigger55.”
A mere 14 minutes later, however, Nitrous backed down, claiming “I was seriously being told what to tell you by someone else I don’t even know what’s going on” and “[p]lease stop I am so sorry I told him that you are now going to have me killed over something he made me do I didn’t even do this it was someone else.”
Although Nitrous stopped attacking him, Ver told Wired that he believes Nitrous to be the same hacker who tormented Hal Finney — another early bitcoin adopter — while he was battling with the final stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Less than two months after Ver’s ordeal, Hal Finney’s wife, Fran, received a phone call from a 911 emergency dispatcher. “Are you OK?” the dispatcher asked. “Is anyone being attacked in your house?” Fran insisted that no one was being attacked, but the dispatcher informed her that “I need to let you know that you are about to have a SWAT team come to your home, and they’re going to ask you to leave.”
She had been assisting her husband Hal shower when the call came, and while police searched the house, he was forced to sit on the lawn, shivering, for more than half an hour. “I was just panicking that he was going to need suction or something,” she said. “He didn’t have anything with him except his ventilator.”
She believes this “swatting” — in which a person calls 911 using a spoofed telephone number and attempts to convince authorities to send a SWAT team to another person’s home by confessing to a crime — was the result of her and her now late-husband’s refusal to pay an extortionist 1,000 bitcoin, or approximately $400,000.
In the months after the swatting, the extortionist called the Finneys’ home at least nine times, threatening to release personal information online — and even attack family members.
“What I’m angry about is it took away some of the peace that he could have had for the last few months of his life,” Fran said. “This was taking up a lot of his emotional energy.”
Roger Ver, the initial victim, is convinced that the person who swatted the Finneys is the same extortionist he dealt with. The police, he said, “have been devoting a huge amount of resources to track down peaceful people engaged in voluntary trade like Charlie Shrem and the operators of the Silk Road Market, while evil hackers were busy terrorizing quadriplegic Hal Finney and his family.”