Several families in Oslo’s affluent Nordstrand district have received extortion letters in the post during the past several days. The letters contain threats of dire consequences if their recipients fail to turn over cash. Police suspect the same group of extortionists that was active just after tax lists were made public earlier this autumn is behind the new threats.
It’s the second time since tax lists were released in October that police have received a wave of reports from frightened recipients of threatening letters. At that time, the local millionaires targeted were believed to have been plucked from the tax lists, which reveal taxable income and net worth for all Norwegian taxpayers.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Monday that the new extortion letters claim their recipients will have “both their fingers and toes clipped off” if they don’t place NOK 20,000 (around USD 3,500) in an envelope and leave it near the entrance to their property by 6pm.
The recipients are being told that any contact with the police will also lead to “brutal violence … towards one or more family members,” to be chosen at random.
Several have ignored the warning and called police, four of them in the Nordstrand area alone.
Bjørn Åge Hansen of the downtown police station in Oslo told NRK that the police can’t be certain that the extortion victims have been singled out based on their tax information. The letters, however, are formulated in a way that’s so similar to the earlier wave of threats that police think the same people are behind them.
Hansen said police are taking the threats seriously because “this is meant to spread fear.” He claimed, however, that police don’t think the threats will be carried out and that recipients are not in any real danger.
“Even though the choice of words is uncomfortable and disgusting, we don’t think folks should really be afraid,” Hansen told NRK.
He said police weren’t ruling out the possibility that youngsters could be behind the threats. There are signs of “immaturity” in the extortion effort, he said, adding that “this is not funny.”