A pensioner living on a £158 pension has been found guilty of extorting Haribo and Lidl by pretending to be an Islamic terrorist out to poison food products with cyanide if they did not give him money.
The 74-year-old granddad, known only as Werner F., blackmailed Haribo and supermarket chains Lidl and Kaufland, saying that he would poison gummy bears and pizzas if they did not cough up 2 million EUR (£1.75 million).
Werner F. has now been found guilty by a district court in the Western German city of Bonn and the blackmailer has been sentenced to three years and six months behind bars.
The pensioner from Dortmund confessed to his crimes and said he got his inspiration when he read in a newspaper about a couple who blackmailed Lidl with pipe bomb attacks. Werner F. said:
‘I thought this can also be done differently and decided to use butyric acid.’ On eBay the German pensioner ordered 2 litres of butyric acid and sprayed it over freezers in supermarkets.
Yet as Lidl did not take his cryptic letter seriously he ordered two more litres and went on to visit more supermarkets.
Lidl had to order a special cleaning after the acid attacks and had to replace some freezers but otherwise did not give in.
Presiding judge Hinrich de Vries said: ‘If you had stopped after the Lidl cases, you would have gotten away with probation, but you did not stop.’
The judge blamed Werner F. for upping his game and going even further in his blackmail attempts by ordering highly dangerous cyanide from the darknet.
He also sent a letter to German sweets manufacturer Haribo and supermarket Kaufland, demanding 1 million EUR (£880,000) from each company or otherwise he would poison pizzas and gummy bears.
Fortunately, the order of cyanide was never delivered despite Werner F. paying 50 EUR (£43.80).