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CRIME

Extortionist arrested in Graz after murder threats

A 24-year-old man has been arrested after demanding that a woman in Carinthia pay him €310,000, or he would kill her two children.

Extortionist arrested in Graz after murder threats
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

He also told her he had planted bombs in and around her house.

She told the police, and special ops officers were able to arrest the man when she went to the agreed place to hand over the money.

The 53-year-old woman from Völkermarkt received an email on November 30th from an unknown sender, demanding she give him the money otherwise he would kill her two adult children.

He said he had left three explosive devices – in her house and the surrounding area – which he could detonate at any time. He also told her that she was under constant observation, and seemed to know a lot about her house and her family.

Gottlieb Türk, head of the Carinthian police service, said the woman was shocked and scared when she received the email. The man told her that she had to drop off the money in two instalments on Saturday night – at an address in Graz and another in Völkermarkt. “He gave very precise instructions about when and where the money was to be deposited,” Türk said. When she told the police they decided to lie in wait for the man in central Graz. When he turned up at the arranged meeting place, they arrested him.

He turned out to be a young unemployed man, also from Völkermarkt, who knew the woman and her family but was not a close friend. He told the police that he needed money and assumed that she had access to large sums of cash. It’s not clear why he decided to ask for a specific sum of €310,000, or why the money had to be handed over in Graz, in the state of Styria.

He managed to conceal his location and identity very well when sending the email. He has no previous criminal record. He’s now being held in custody in Klagenfurt.

CRIME

Austria probes claim spyware targeted law firms and banks

Austria said Friday that it was investigating a report that an Austrian company developed spyware targeting law firms, banks and consultancies in at least three countries.

Austria probes claim spyware targeted law firms and banks

Microsoft’s security team earlier this week said it found that a malware called Subzero — developed by Vienna-based company DSIRF — was deployed in 2021 and 2022.

“Observed victims to date include law firms, banks and strategic consultancies in countries such as Austria, the United Kingdom and Panama,” it wrote in a blog entry on Wednesday.

Austria’s interior ministry said it had not received reports of any incidents.

READ ALSO: Austria wary of cyber attacks after personal data of foreign residents leaked online

“Of course, (intelligence agency) DSN checks the allegations. So far, there is no proof of the use of spy software from the company mentioned,” it said in a statement.

Austria’s Kurier newspaper cited DSIRF as saying that Subzero had not been misused and “was developed exclusively for use by authorities in EU states” and was not commercially available.

DSIRF did not immediately return a request for comment from AFP.

Austria’s interior ministry said it knew of the company but “has not had any business relationships” with it.

Last year several media outlets reported that governments around the world, including in the EU, had used Pegasus spyware made by Israel’s NSO Group to spy on opponents.

Budapest and Warsaw responded that the use of Pegasus was for legitimate national security reasons.

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