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The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland
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Charities urged to be aware of online extortion

Charities in Northern Ireland are being urged to be vigilant against online extortion or ‘ransom’ demands affecting UK businesses.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has issued the awareness call to charity trustees, professionals and volunteers following recent reports to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre.

The advice is particularly relevant for charities which operate overseas and/or deal with international partners in high risk zones.

What to look out for:

  • A number of businesses throughout the UK have received online extortion demands from a group calling themselves ‘Lizard Squad’.
  • The group have sent emails demanding payment of 5 Bitcoins (a form of digital or ‘crypto’ currency) by a certain date and time. The email states that this demand will increase by 5 Bitcoins for each day that it goes unpaid.
  • If their demand is not met, they have threatened to launch a ‘denial of service’ attack (‘DDoS’) against organisations’ websites and networks, taking them offline until payment is made.
  • The demand states that once their actions have started, they cannot be undone.

If you have received such a demand, or receive one in the future, you are advised to:

  • NOT meet their demands and pay the ransom
  • make a report to Action Fraud via telephone 0300 123 2040 or via their website at  
  • retain the original emails (with headers)
  • make a note of the attack, recording all times, type and content of the contact
  • call your Internet Service Provider (ISP), or hosting provider if you do not host your own Web server, tell them you are under attack and ask for help.

Myles McKeown, the Commission’s Head of Compliance and Enquiries commented: “It is vital that charities are aware of, and vigilant, against this type of fraudulent activity and if targeted, take appropriate steps to protect their charity.

“If you suspect that your charity may have been contacted, or has fallen victim to extortion or ransom fraud, please take action now and report it immediately to Action Fraud.”


For more information please contact Shirley Kernan, Charity Commission for Northern Ireland Communications Officer, on telephone: 028 3832 0169, mobile: 07827338978 or email:

Notes to editors

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is the independent regulator of charities in Northern Ireland, established under the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.