Recently, individual retailers in the United States have fallen victim to scammers sending bomb threats. Among these retailers are Kroger, Target, Walmart, Amazon’s Whole Foods Market, and many others. These threats are accompanied by demands for ransoms in the form of gift cards, Bitcoin (BTC), or money, with callers adding they would detonate bombs if their demands were not met.
This trend has been ongoing in the US for several months now and law enforcement agencies are currently investigating the situation. To date, certain stores in New Mexico and Wisconsin have already been affected by such bomb threats. Some of these retail stores have confirmed that receiving such random bomb threats is an unusual event and appears to be the latest form of extortion targeting retailers. A worker from Whole Foods Market in the suburbs of Chicago received a call from a scammer demanding BTC worth $5,000.
According to the caller, a pipe bomb had been planted in the store and would be detonated if the ransom was not paid. In New Mexico, the scammer demanded that the money be wired to them, threatening to detonate the bomb if the worker reported to the police.
However, in both cases, authorities were promptly informed, and the facilities were immediately evacuated. No suspicious items were found during searches and no bombs detonated.
Efforts are being intensified to investigate these Bitcoin scammers. According to police statements, tracking the scammers via the numbers they called from has proven unsuccessful as these numbers are usually blocked, and so far, nobody is sure if the numbers are connected to a larger systematic effort.
On close inspection, it appears that no store has been called twice. The targeted stores have emphasized that they are only receiving such calls once.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is said to be working closely with local and state law enforcement agencies to unmask these malefactors. The targeted stores have been advised to take the calls seriously, but not to make any payments to such callers. Instead, workers have been advised to try to gather enough information from the caller.