Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin seems to be growing as the preferred mode of ransom payments amidst bad actors. Besides the anonymity, the appreciating value of the number one cryptocurrency is also one of the reasons why criminals prefer it. Lately, a 45-year-old U.K. sheep farmer has been accused of attempting to extort £1.4 million ($1.8 million) worth of Bitcoin.
Nigel Wright, a sheep farmer from Lincolnshire, England, tried to blackmail retails giant Tesco, by claiming to have placed metal shards in baby food and planting them across multiple outlets. He said that he’d reveal the location if the ransom was paid in Bitcoin.
Reported by news publication The Guardian, Wright supposedly sent multiple emails and letters to Tesco under the name “Guy Brush”, in between May 2018 to February 2020. Starting off with a demand for 100 Bitcoin, the ransom soon rose to 200 Bitcoin valued at nearly £1.4 million in February.
The announcement notes:
“The prosecution alleges that over a period of two years from spring 2018, the defendant hoped to make himself rich by means of blackmail.”
Wright claimed to be a part of disgruntled dairy farmers calling themselves “Guy Brush and the Dairy Pirates” who believed they were underpaid by the retail giant.
Tesco also received complaints from two customers in November and December 2019, who found slivers of metal in jars of baby food while feeding them to their children. The first jar was purchased in Rochdale, while the second was bought in Lockerbie.
The farmer also claimed that salmonella and chemicals had been injected into cans from other brands, and threatened to continue poisoning products if the ransom wasn’t paid.
The Blackmailer was Blackmailed
However, Wright informed that he carried out the blackmail as he was being threatened by a group of men called Travellers who supposedly demanded £1m from him while threatening to rape his wife and kill him and his children.
Julian Christopher, the prosecutor, noted:
“You, the jury, will have to determine whether his story of being threatened by Travellers is true. The prosecution suggests that it changes whenever he is confronted with more evidence which he has to explain, and is completely untrue.”
As of now, Wright has denied two counts of contaminating goods and four counts of blackmail.
Cryptocurrencies are continually misused and defamed by criminals and bad actors, but it must be noted that with the right tools, these criminals can often be tracked down after a ransom payment is made. This is one of the biggest silver linings to the cloud that surrounds the controversial reputation of virtual currencies.