A 38-year-old man from Kiel, Germany was sentenced to prison for a blackmail attempt on a supermarket chain.
According to the court documents, Andy S., the defendant, sent more than 20 letters to the Coop food chain trying to extort money from the supermarket. The suspect sent the mail to the company between September 9 and 16, 2016 threatening the food chain that he would poison children with marzipan if Coop did not pay him three million euros in bitcoins.
Four schools received packages of poisoned marzipan last September. Additionally, Andy S., called in a bomb threat to one of the schools driving students, teachers, and parents in fear. The defendant confessed before the court and showed remorse.
“I have committed the crime. But it was never my intention to put children at risk. I am really sorry to have made the population of Kiel unsettled,” the 38-year-old said during his court trial.
However, this was not the case on the first day of the man’s trial, he was calm, smiled from time to time, and kept an eye contact with the people in the courtroom.
According to the German media outlet bild.de, in 2011, Andy S., offered his help for the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the Federal Intelligence Service regarding cybercrime cases. The 38-year-old wanted to help law enforcement in finding suspected offenders on the dark web. He even developed a software for this purpose, however, the agencies he reached did not react to his enquiry. The defendant allegedly wanted to show law enforcement authorities how easy is to send a threatening letter from the dark net.
“Was this a big advertising campaign for your software”? the prosecutor asked the suspect.
“I wanted to test the software under real conditions,” the defendant answered to the prosecutor’s question. As the suspect continued to tell, he wanted to show that certain information flows in the dark web that can’t be monitored by law enforcement.
A special task unit arrested the suspect at his apartment in Kiel on September 19. The 38-year-old has been held in police custody since then.
When forensic experts examined the poisoned marzipan, they discovered that the marzipan hearts were infected with a natural substance. However, the material is effective against insects, but it is not fatal to humans. According to experts in the case, the substance could cause health problems, but could not cause serious consequences, which would threaten one’s life. The court excluded the defendant from such charges, which had a mitigating effect on the judgment.
Following the prosecutor, Ralph Jacobsen’s application, the presiding judge sentenced Andy S. to four years and nine months in prison. According to Jacobsen, the defendant committed the crime for the purpose to gain money. The prosecutor was concerned for the well-beings of the schoolchildren, who could easily fall victims to the blackmailer.
“The health of many schoolchildren was jeopardized. A city was in exceptional circumstances. With the extorted money, the accused wanted to enrich himself,” Jacobsen said in a statement.
A similar case happened in December 2016 in Germany, when a 74-year-old pensioner threatened Haribo and the supermarket chain Kaufland that he would poison Haribo Gold Bears and Kaufland pizzas with cyanide if the companies would not pay up. According to the court documents, the suspect demanded one million euros from the two firms. He attached signs to different products of the firm’s, reading “careful, poison”. The 74-year-old ordered cyanide from the dark web, however, he never received it, police information said. According to the prosecution, there has been no danger to the public since the man did not receive the poison he threatened the companies with. The pensioner allegedly sent the messages by mail, and then by email. Law enforcement authorities arrested the defendant on Christmas Eve after they saw the footage of a surveillance camera as the 74-year-old tries to send the threatening mail to the companies. In addition to that, police also identified the IP address of the suspect. Shortly after police detained him, the pensioner confessed. He even admitted that he also tried to extort money from the supermarket chain Lidl. The accused person reportedly said that he had financial difficulties, that’s why he threatened companies with poisoned products.