CheapAir, an online travel agency, was threatened last week with a smear campaign if they did not fork over a ransom amount of $10,000 in bitcoin or approximately 1.4BTC. If they did not comply, the thugs would then proceed to take the company down with negative reviews on websites as well as on social media. They would also look into messing with the search engine optimization rankings of CheapAir.
The social media team of the online travel agency let it be known that giving in was not an option.
“But paying these cyber thugs is not an option being considered,” wrote CheapAir’s social media team in a blog post. “We are letting you know about this in advance so, should you see unusual social media activity or negative posts on any of our accounts, you’ll have gotten the full picture of what’s going on.”
Per a posting on the company’s Twitter account, the smear campaign has already kicked off. Most of the negative tweets that have surfaced so far appear to have been generated by bot accounts.
CheapAir started accepting bitcoin in late 2013 following customer demand. One can book flights as well as hotel reservations using bitcoins. According to reports by CCN, CheapAir disclosed that over a six-month period the level of bitcoin payments in the booking of flights and accommodation had risen by 74% to hit a figure of US$15 million. At the time the CEO of the online travel agency, Jeff Klee, indicated that customers who paid using bitcoin tended to have a global mindset.
“We find that the bitcoin shopper is decidedly more international than traditional non-bitcoin shoppers, who tend to focus more on domestic locations,” said at the time.
Additionally, Klee revealed that bitcoin usage on the platform was strongly correlated with the price of the flagship cryptocurrency as during bullish markets usage increases and vice versa. Klee also pointed out that one of the reasons some of the customers preferred paying using bitcoin was because it involved fewer steps when checking out.