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Tether alleges it has received a ransom note for 500 BTC. The extortionists have threatened to make documents that are harmful to the Bitcoin ecosystem public.
On Sunday, Tether shared on its Twitter account that it was been extorted. In a thread, Tether stated that they had received a ransom note asking for 500 BTC – worth around $22 million. Tether further noted that the extortionist had threatened to release documents that would be “harmful to the Bitcoin ecosystem.” Tether has been clear that it will not pay. This comes just days after the stablecoin settled a case with the New York attorney general regarding the $850 million loan to Bitfinex.
While we believe this is a pretty sad attempt at a shakedown, we take it seriously. We have reported the forged communications and the associated ransom demand to law enforcement. As always, we will fully support law enforcement in an investigation of this extortion scheme. 5/5
— Tether (@Tether_to) February 28, 2021
The team also disputed the circulating documents purported to be personnel emails between Tether and Deltec Bank & Trust and others. Some have purported that these documents are proof that the stablecoin is not fully backed by dollars in reserves as it has long claimed. So far the emails have not been confirmed and Deltec Bank is yet to comment. After receiving the ransom note, Tether wrote:
“Today we also received a ransom demand for 500 BTC to be sent to bc1qa9f60pved3w3w0p7snpxlnh5t4uj95vxn797a7. The sender said that, unless they receive the BTC by tomorrow, they will leak documents to the public in an effort to “harm the bitcoin ecosystem.” We are not paying.”
The team has argued that the threat could be a simple extortion scheme or a way to undermine it. Basic extortions are popular in the crypto community, at the same time, the Tether project is surrounded by controversy. This has made the case complicated. Some in the community have long suspected that Tether is not fully backed by dollars in reserve. Additionally, academics have argued that Tether manipulated Bitcoin prices in 2017. Coincidentally as Bitcoin surged to reach $20K, Tether’s market cap climbed from $2 billion to $34 billion.
Tether has been key in the crypto market as a stablecoin. Stablecoins allow investors and exchanges to enter and exit cryptocurrencies in times of extreme volatility with ease. Despite such coins being popular, the largest has been Tether. At the time of press, the coin ranks 5th with a market cap of $35 billion. Interestingly, because of this the stablecoins use of entering and exiting from other cryptocurrencies, Tether records the highest daily trading volume on the crypto market. At the time of press, this stands at over $95 billion.
With the team clear that it will not pay, many will be watching closely if there are any controversial documents released that potentially harm the ecosystem. If not, it will be obvious that this was just a way to undermine the project and spread FUD in the market.