Over the past few months, a series of prominent U.S. grocery chains have fallen victim to scammers who have been issuing fake bomb threats and demanding money.
According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, several major U.S. grocery chains, including Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods Market, have been targeted by scammers in recent incidents across Wisconsin and other locations. These scammers have been issuing false bomb threats, accompanied by demands for ransom payments. Law enforcement agencies are actively investigating these cases.
One incident took place in a suburb north of Chicago, where an employee at a Whole Foods store received a call claiming that a pipe bomb had been placed within the premises. The caller threatened to detonate the bomb unless a payment of $5,000 in Bitcoin (BTC) was made. Similarly, an employee at a Kroger store in Mexico also received a threat, this time demanding a wire payment, with the threat of a bomb explosion if the employee attempted to contact the police.
Fortunately, in both instances, the employees contacted the authorities, who promptly assisted in evacuating the stores. However, no suspicious items were discovered during the investigations.
According to industry experts, the recent incidents involving bomb threats and ransom demands targeting retailers are a relatively new form of extortion that emerged earlier this year.
Rodney McMullen, the CEO of Kroger, expressed deep concern over safety and emphasized that they take such threats extremely seriously. Kroger is actively cooperating with local law enforcement agencies as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in response to these incidents. The FBI has advised the public to remain vigilant, be aware of their surroundings, and report any suspicious activities to the authorities.
Local law enforcement in the affected areas are diligently working to investigate the threats. However, they are facing challenges in tracking down the scammers as the callers have utilized hacked phone numbers. The authorities are currently uncertain about the location of the callers and whether they are part of an organized effort.