According to official court documents, in December, the 74-year-old allegedly threatened to poison candy using cyanide if the two companies didn’t pay the suspect one million euros. The accused person attached signs to various products from the two companies, reading ”careful, poison”, and left the items in multiple stores, officials claim. Sources say that Kaufland pizzas and Haribo Gold Bears were the main targets of the pensioner. According to the prosecution, the man ordered cyanide from the dark web, however, he never received it.
“Either you pay me a million euros in bitcoins within the next ten days, or I poison your products with cyanide,” the text of the blackmail letters goes by.
Prosecutors have said that there hasn’t been a danger to the public. Since the suspect did not receive the poison from the dark net, there is no reason for fear.
“Haribo has at all times cooperated with the investigation,” a company spokesperson said. “As the police have also confirmed, there has at no time been a threat to our consumers.”
According to the German news outlet wdr.de, the 74-year-old had sent his demands for the firms by mail at first, and then by email. However, at this point, the suspect was already on police radar.
Law enforcement authorities detained the suspect on Christmas Eve in Würzburg. After the threat, the affected companies immediately alerted police. Investigators managed to track back the registered mail. Officials identified the blackmailer from a surveillance camera footage as he tried to mail his threats to the two companies in a post office in Eschweiler. Additionally, police also managed to find out the IP address of the 74-year-old.
Shortly after his arrest, the pensioner confessed. He even admitted that he also tried to extort money from the supermarket chain Lidl. The accused person reportedly said that he had financial difficulties, that’s why he threatened companies with poisoned products.
“My client receives a pension of about €180, his wife €900. That is not close to enough to live on,” said the suspect’s lawyer, Thomas Ohm. “When after a doctor’s visit he didn’t have enough money to buy the medicine at the pharmacy, he became so desperate that extortion for him was the last resort. He did not intend to hurt anyone.”
The 74-year-old was released from custody after filing a complaint. However, authorities released him on strict conditions, he has to report regularly to a local police station. According to WDR, the man is set to be charged soon, however, another media outlet reported that it is not clear if, and when will this happen.
“If and when we will charge him is unclear,” said a prosecutor’s office spokesperson.