is the work of bullies and thieves of the worst sort. They are threatening people from thousands of kilometres away - and getting what they want.
I don't doubt for a moment that there will be people who continue to do this sort of thing successfully. They will use these methods to fund not just lavish life styles for themselves but other illegal activities. Raising the money for terrorist attacks? It's an easy way to do it if you can find some technologically minded whizz kid who can write the necessary program. If someone finds a flaw in it and inserts a "kill switch" then it probably won't be until after you have amassed a nice little amount.
I have been thinking about this ever since someone confronted Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas. Joyce is a supporter of same sex marriage. He was using his position as CEO to speak in support of it. The person who confronted him with a lemon meringue pie is opposed to same sex marriage. Joyce plans to sue his attacker.
Both of them did the wrong thing. Joyce should not have been using his position as CEO in the way that he did. He has every right, indeed a duty, to support equality but he has made it a personal crusade rather than being about company policy.
And nobody should be pushing pies into other people's faces. The man who did it will be sued by Joyce.
But the two men met in the same physical space. It's not the same as those who write computer programs designed to demand ransoms. It isn't the same as people who demand money by sending around "debt collectors" or people who write anonymous letters.
These people are not just the worse sort of bullies but they are the worst sort of cowards too.
All this is something that I have been acutely aware of over the past twelve months. Someone I know has tried to bully and intimidate me - and others. It isn't going to work. Recently that person went too far. I have a weapon now, a weapon they provided. It's a piece of paper, nothing more. It is also everything. It is the "kill switch" and I only need possession of it. They have shot themselves.
Bullies usually come to a bad end.