WATERLOO – Authorities are investigating bomb scares at area businesses as part of a nationwide series of threats.
As of early afternoon Thursday, Waterloo and Cedar Falls police responded to about 10 email threats.
“These are apparently the same email threats that have been going on around the country,” said Capt. David Mohlis with the Waterloo Police Department. Officers said the wording on the emails varies, but most claim a bomb has been planted in the building and demand payment, usually in the form of bitcoin digital currency.
KCRG-TV reported at least 13 businesses and a hospital in eastern Iowa received threatening emails, including the TV station. The message has been traced back to servers in Russia, KCRG reported.
Local police are documenting the threats and passing the information to federal authorities.
“The FBI is aware of it and is asking us to obtain the mails information that is being sent to these business owners,” Mohlis said.
Local targets so far include Cedar Falls Utilities and People’s Clinic as well as a construction company, a law firm, a bank, an aviation company and an advertising agency.
Nationally, the threats have been ongoing since Nov. 30 and have hit at least 15 states, Mohlis said, although there was a marked uptick on Thursday, according to media accounts. Mohlis said the local threats began around noon on Thursday.
Businesses in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids also received threats.
Anyone with information is asked to contact local authorities or the FBI at https:tips.fbi.gov.
A copy of the one of the emails, passed along by Cedar Rapids police, reads:
Subject: Do not waste your time
Hello. My man hid an explosive device (Hexogen) in the building where your business is conducted. My mercenary assembled the explosive device according to my guide. It has small dimensions and it is covered up very carefully, it is impossible to damage the building structure by my bomb, but in the case of its detonation there will be many victims.
My recruited person keeps the area under the control. If any unusual behavioror cop is noticed he will power the bomb.
I can call off my man if you make a transfer. 20.000 dollars is the cost for your life and business. Pay it to me in BTC and I warrant that I will withdraw my man and the device won’t detonate. But do not try to cheat- my guarantee will become valid only after 3 confirmations in blockchain network.
My payment details (Bitcoin address): (REMOVED)
You must solve problems with the transaction by the end of the workday, if you are late with the money the device will detonate.
Nothing personal this is just a business, if you don’t transfer me the bitcoins and a bomb explodes, next time other companies will send me more money, because this is not a one-time action.
For my safety, I will no longer log into this email. I check my address every forty min and if I receive the payment I will order my person to get away.
If the explosive device detonates and the authorities see this letter:
We are not terrorists and dont assume any liability for explosions in other places.