Large grocery and discount stores across the U.S. have been targeted by a caller who threatens to blow up shoppers and workers with a bomb if employees fail to wire money to an account overseas, reports the Associated Press. Frightened workers have wired thousands of dollars, and in one case took off their clothes, to placate a caller who said he was watching them but may have been thousands of miles away. The FBI and police are investigating similar bomb threats at more than 15 stores in at least 11 states in the past week.
No one has been arrested, no bombs have been found, and no one has been hurt. The calls have triggered store evacuations and prompted lengthy sweeps by police and bomb squads. The caller claims to have a bomb and orders the store to send money to an account through an in-store money transfer service such as Western Union. He claims to be able to see inside the store. In Newport, R.I., employees at a Wal-Mart got three calls Tuesday and wired three payments totaling $10,000 to an account out of the U.S.