Tether, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency company that provides USDT stablecoin, reports having received a ransom note demanding 500 bitcoin, currently worth around $22 million.
The company posted on Twitter about the incident, citing the threat of documents being leaked online, which would “harm the Bitcoin ecosystem.” The wallet address linked with the ransom demand contains $72 in BTC.
“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,” Tether said in its tweet.
“It is unclear whether this is a basic extortion scheme like those directed at other crypto companies or people looking to undermine Tether and the crypto community as a whole,” Tether noted. “Either way, those seeking to harm Tether are getting increasingly desperate.”
According to ZDNet, Tether said that it is not aware who is behind the ransom demand. The company also stated that at the moment, it is “not in a position” to give the ransom note’s copy.
Documents allegedly revealing an email thread between a Tether employee and Deltec representatives, said to hold USDT funds, have surfaced online in recent days. This incident intensifies concerns about Tether’s financing.
The verification of the email thread has not yet been done. In the same Twitter thread reporting the ransom attempt, Tether refuted their validity. At press time, a company spokesperson had not commented on the issue.
Tether and Bitfinex CTO Paolo Ardoino said in a separate tweet that the primary objective of these suspected leaks is to “discredit #bitcoin and all #crypto.”
On the other hand, Tether has decided to pay the New York Attorney General’s Office $18.5 million to settle a lawsuit in which Tether and Bitfinex were accused of hiding an $850 million loss.
NY Attorney General Letitia James argued that “Tether’s claims that its virtual currency was fully backed by US dollars at all times was a lie.” She also said that the companies “recklessly and unlawfully covered up massive financial losses to keep their scheme going and protect their bottom lines.”
Although Tether has chosen to resolve the issue through settlement, the company still admitted that it is not guilty of wrongdoing. Tether said that the settlement “should be viewed as a measure of our desire to put this matter behind us and focus on our business.”