Aussie man threatened to start bushfire in crypto extortion attempt, police say

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An Australian man has been charged with extortion for giving authorities in Queensland a fiery ultimatum: hand over $5 million AUD ($3.4 million) in crypto or he would intentionally start a bushfire.

The 27-year-old was arrested yesterday in Melbourne following what Victoria Police have called a lengthy investigation, which began after the threat was made back in October 2022.

Bushfires are an ever-growing threat to Australia — their intensity and frequency are rising at alarming rates. One of the country’s iconic wildlife, the sleepy koala, is subsequently now endangered.

The undisclosed emergency service was given three days to pay up. However, demands were ignored and no money was ever transferred. No bushfire was lit.  

In 2015, a man was also charged with threatening to detonate several ‘bushfire bombs.’

Read more: The crumbling empire of Fred Schebesta, Australia’s self-titled Crypto King

Detectives from a cyber crime department tracked the blackmail message back to the south of Queensland, to an address in Bundoora, a suburb in the city of Melbourne. The unnamed Australian man is scheduled for a court hearing in August this year and is currently out on bail.   

Along with endangering life and threatening to destroy property, the man was charged with drug possession and failing to provide information under warrant.

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