PARK CITY — At least 50 bomb threats demanding bitcoin payments were made to businesses in cities across Utah Thursday afternoon as similar threats swept the nation, officials said.
Park City, West Valley, South Salt Lake, South Jordan, Murray, Draper, Cache County, Price and Dixie State University in St. George were among those confirmed to have received threats, law enforcement agencies and dispatchers reported.
KSL.com has received reports from readers across the state that indicate the threat was even more widespread.
The Park Record, a news organization in Park City, said several staff members received an emailed bomb threat just before 11 a.m. and quickly called police. Police responded to investigate, and schools in the area were briefly placed on lockdown.
Shortly after noon, Park City police determined the threat was “a hoax,” and employees returned to the building.
The email The Park Record received came from the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org,” according to Park Record editor Bubba Brown.
“It kind of seemed like one of those Nigerian prince scams — the verbiage and how it was phrased. It seemed like something like that,” he said.
The email demanded the transfer of $20,000 in bitcoin or the anonymous sender would detonate a bomb inside the building, Brown said. The email did not seem specific to The Park Record or Park City, however, he added.
“We felt like it was a scam, but of course we’re going to take the situation very seriously. We’re not going to receive something like that and just ignore it,” Brown said.
Price police said the threat was typically communicated via email in “broken English.” They confirmed that the bomb threat to the location in Price was also determined to not be valid, and the business resumed normal operations.
Dixie State University also investigated a bomb threat at its testing center, and the building was temporarily evacuated, the college’s director of public relations Jyl Hall said. However, after a thorough search, no bomb was found and the North Plaza has been reopened, according to officials.
A number of states across the U.S. have received similar bomb threats, NBC tweeted.
Dozens of bomb threats being reported at news outlets, government buildings, banks, libraries, schools and other businesses across the US, various local media and police depts. report.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 13, 2018
“We are aware of the recent bomb threats made in cities around the country, and we remain in touch with our law enforcement partners to provide assistance,” Utah FBI public relations officer Sandra Barker said in a statement. “As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety.”
Here’s the bomb threat email, that’s making the rounds in Utah and around the country today. I’ll tell you how it tied up some law enforcement, and local businesses, on @KSL5TV at 5&6. #KSLTVpic.twitter.com/pZOlGXiVyX
— Mike Anderson (@mikeandersonKSL) December 13, 2018