Bomb threats in Utah could be part of national scam

Posted at 1:20 PM, Sep 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-19 00:16:23-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Bomb threats at several pharmacies and stores around the state forced evacuations Wednesday; authorities said they didn’t find anything suspicious at any of the locations, but the scare could be part of a national scam.

“We received two bomb threats to our pharmacies,” said Lt. Matt Siufanua of the Provo Police Department.

Two phone calls, just minutes apart, forced an evacuation of a Walgreens at 1315 N. State and a Rite Aid, just across the street.

“We were able to get our bomb squad on scene with their dogs, and we were able to clear both buildings,” Siufanua said.

Around the same time, four other calls were made to Walgreens and Wal-Marts in Logan, Layton, Ogden and Pleasant Grove, all making a similar demand.

The caller wanted the employee to put thousands of dollars on a Green Dot MoneyPak card, a pre-paid card. The manager at the Layton Wal-Mart reported to police the man wanted $8,000 on 16 cards.

Lt. Shawn Horton of the Layton Police Department said the individual threatened to blow up the stores.

“He wanted her to do that within five minutes,” Horton said. “If that was not done, he said he had a guy out here in the parking lot that was going to blow up the store.”

A search of the area by police turned up nothing, but the scare could be part of a bigger scheme hitting states across the country.

“I believe Virginia, Maine, Vermont, Georgia and some other parts of the country are also receiving these kinds of threats, as well,” Siufanua said.

According to a statement from the FBI in Atlanta, 10 stores received the same call from a man, threatening that if he wasn’t given hundreds of dollars in MoneyPak cards, he would set off a bomb.

Authorities in Utah said it’s likely the cards, which are sold everywhere, are being targeted because they’re reloadable and, much like wire transfers, are untraceable.

“You can take the funds from that card and you can load a pre-paid card, like a Visa card or something like that, and once you load that card, the funds from that particular prepaid Visa card cannot be traced,” Horton said.

FBI officials said one of the calls placed to a store in Georgia could be identified as an overseas Voiceover IP telephone number, which allows someone to place a call over the internet using a system, such as Skype

WITI-TV, our sister station in Milwaukee, reported there have been similar threats at two Walgreens pharmacies, one Walmart store and one Kmart store this week. Click here to read more from WITI >>