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At least three of yesterday's bogus bomb threats were sent to Cambridge locations

Cambridge Police report officers were dispatched to a location on the 1100 block of Mass. Ave. in Harvard Square and to companies on Memorial Drive and First Street yesterday for bomb threats that turned out to be part of a national wave of bomb threats.

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I recently received a spam email worded very similarly to these national bomb threats, claiming they hacked my computer and downloaded all of the files, and were threatening to release them unless I sent them a very odd amount of bitcoin ($710).

It's kind of like the scourge of hilariously-scripted scams from Indian robocallers who claim "the local cops are going to arrest you and be prosecuted to the fullest extend of the law, unless you call them with your financial information to remedy the accusations pressed against your name".

Are these things effective enough that people are actually falling for them?

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Unfortunately, these scams continue to be particularly effective with the elderly and those who have a lower level of education.

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Talking about spam calls that threaten to "call the police to have charges pressed against you because you were caught doing a fraud on the IRS".

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There was an NPR story a few years back about a lawyer or a doctor or some other white collar type who almost fell for the "buy 5k in Amazon gift cards and read me the numbers over the phone" variant. Almost because she had to call her bank to raise her credit limit to make the buy and they told her to take a breath and reassess.

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My grandfather is very highly educated and very intelligent but definitely not a digital native. You could probably describe him as a computer enthusiast, though, which makes it worse -- he embraces every new tech gadget and trend without understanding it at all, and has some kind of digital death aura. His devices hate him plenty without outside interference.

When ransomware started becoming a thing I was really worried about him. Luckily he sold his business and fully retired recently, so at worst he'd lose a couple of weeks of work on one of his community courses.

He is EXACTLY the kind of person who would learn just enough about Bitcoin to start sending it to random shady places though.

We're all primed to fall for something, and now with social media and the constant small-potatoes hacks (I got a variant that included, for "credibility," an old password of mine that I never used for anything more sensitive than recipe blogs) they can include just enough accurate personal information to send the lizard brain into panic mode.

They wouldn't bother doing it if it didn't work. Not all of the time, but enough.

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711 or 709 though, are.

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