Extortionists target Web bookies with child porn threats

Blue Square has been told that if it doesn't hand over €7,000 it will be the victim of a distasteful email smear campaign

Child pornography is the latest weapon being wielded by web-based extortionists who are targetting online betting firms with denial of service blackmail threats.

Blackmailers warned UK-based online bookmaker Blue Square on Tuesday that they would send out emails in Blue Square's name containing child pornography unless the company paid a demand for €7,000.

The threat followed a more traditional denial of service attack that hit the company on Monday, taking Blue Square's site down for five hours.

The email was sent to Blue Square by a 'Bohan Krascevic' from a Yahoo! Web email address with a '.se' Sweden suffix. It stated: "You have time until 5 Pm your local time. I will now start an attack for 1 hour. This will be 1/20 of the power I can do. Answer me and I will give you my e-gold account number which must be funded ASAP, 7000 EURO. Waiting for answer."

Peter Pederson, chief technology officer at Blue Square, said the latest threat ups the ante from the traditional denial of service attacks.

"The thing that has distinguished this is the seriousness of the threat. He's threatened to send mass email containing child porn from Blue Square accounts. That changes the stakes of these things from being apparently financial extortion to something that has a different kind of impact," he said.

The UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), which arrested three suspected ringleaders of one of the online extortion gangs in Russia earlier this year, confirmed this is a new tactic being used by the criminals.

"We are investigating it. It is not a threat we have seen before," said a NHTCU spokeswoman.

On Monday, hackers targeted rival online bookie William Hill with similar demands.

"We did have a DoS attack, but we don't know where it came from," said a spokeswoman from William Hill. "We are building in software to prevent this, but it's a technology game. The NHTCU is aware and we've had quite a good relationship with them in the past."

Earlier this month, director of research for security organisation SANS said that every online bookmaker was receiving similar denial-of-service threats.