MltGH7H.jpg (1600×871)
What could pizza have done? Pizza is innocent.

Sandra Alhilo, a 37-year-old mother of two, only had a vague knowledge of Bitcoin when the extortion letter came.

"I remembered the... Spice Road?" she told the Daily Dot. "The drug thing."

It's actually the Silk Road she was thinking of, the Deep Web marketplace where you can buy all sorts of illegal goods, and where the online-only Bitcoin is the currency of choice. But the point remains: The second time Bitcoin came to her attention, it was in the form of a letter that arrived June 16 to Pizza Pirates in Pomona, Calif., where Alhilo is the general manager.

"I started laughing," Aliho said. "It looked like junk mail on the outside."

The tone of the letter, however, is dead serious. "Your business," it begins, "has been targeted for Extortion [sic]." It goes on to name the list of things the anonymous criminal will do if the business doesn't pay up: negative online reviews, calling in bomb threats, calling the cops and saying the company's running a meth lab or training terrorists. To avoid this, it says, simply send over a single Bitcoin (worth around $600 these days). The letter's recipient is directed to Coinbase, a popular cryptocurrency exchange, to purchase the digital money.

A friend of Aliho quickly posted the letter to Reddit, then got cold feet and deleted the thread. But copies spread on Twitter and were reposted back on Reddit. Then other copies of the same letter started cropping up. Then other businesses across the U.S., so far all independent pizza places, started reporting receiving the same letter

Because of the nature of Bitcoin, there's no way to tell who owns the wallet that the company set up to ask for money. The wallet itself is visible for anyone to see, however. It's only received two tiny transactions, presumably to test it out. So far, no one has paid it 1 BTC as an extortion ransom.

Pizza Pirates is the earliest known recipient of the letter, but it's not the only one. Grand Rapids Pizza and Delivery, based in Michigan, got it too. It came with a different wallet address, which seems to be invalid, but is otherwise identical. "They’re [trying to take our] lunch money, and we’re not going to let them," owner Mike Raymond told local news outlet Wood TV.

Another pizza joint, New Hampshire's 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, got the same thing. "This is a new one on me, you guys," 900 Degrees's official Facebook page wrote on its wall. "What the heck is a BitCoin??"

Alhilo said that she contacted the postal inspection service for an investigation. "We have no intention of paying this," she said.

Photo by Bob Jagendorf/Flickr (CC By 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

Promoted Stories Powered by Sharethrough
Business
Samsung's response to a customer whose phone caught fire only made things worse
Damage control is a tricky thing: One wrong move can make a small crisis exponentially worse. Such is the case for Samsung, which moved to suppress YouTube evidence that its Galaxy S4 smartphone can catch fire for no reason at all, only to have the original poster call the company out for it in a second video that received five times as many views as the first.
silk road
Deep Web has more drugs for sale now than before Silk Road bust
Six months after the FBI shut down the black market known as Silk Road and arrested its alleged mastermind, Ross Ulbricht, it looks like the Deep Web has officially recovered.
The Latest From Daily Dot Video
Group

Pure, uncut internet. Straight to your inbox.

Thanks for subscribing to our newsletter!