Bomb threat emails, allegedly from Russian spammers, cause scare in Grand County and nationwide
GRANBY — A bomb sniffing dog from the Grand County Sheriff’s Department was brought into the Sky-Hi News offices Thursday afternoon after an employee received a bomb threat contained in an email.
Shortly before 11 a.m., an employee with Sky-Hi News, located on Agate Avenue in downtown Granby, received an email claiming a bomb was recently hidden inside the newspaper office. The email went on to demand a payment of $20,000 worth of bitcoins, an internet currency.
Multiple papers across the Rocky Mountain west reported similar email receipts Thursday, including Sky-Hi News’s sister papers the Vail Daily, Aspen Times and the Park Record, located in Park City, Utah. According to the Vail Daily, multiple businesses and individuals across the Vail Valley had received similar emails.
Officials from the Gateway Inn in Grand Lake confirmed they, too, had received a similar email Thursday morning that claimed a bomb was hidden inside their building. Representatives from the Gateway Inn told Sky-Hi News they had contacted local law enforcement.
Internet technology specialists with Swift Communications, parent company of Sky-Hi News, notified employees that they believed the emails to be hoaxes originating from Russia. They explained the text contained within the various emails sent to multiple news outlets were nearly identical.
“Many Swift employees have received disturbing emails this morning making threats against our offices,” read an email to employees from Swift IT professionals. “To the best of our ability, we have determined these emails are hoaxes. The threats are non-specific in nature and appear to follow a spam message pattern. After investigation, we found that all emails originate from Russian spammers. They are looking to incite panic and, thereby, force a payment.”
Officials from Swift Communications stated they would be filing a report on the incident with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Law enforcement officials in Park City cleared the Park Record office building Thursday, which had been evacuated earlier, and had also determined the emails to be a scam.
Shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon, Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin, with his K-9 trained in bomb detection, conducted a safety sweep of the Sky-Hi News office and determined there were no explosives on the premises.
Officials from the Granby Police Department noted that the nature of the email, which did not include any specific names or details, also indicated that the email was most likely a scam, especially in context of the number of entities that had received similar emails. While law enforcement officials believed the email to be a hoax, they said a cursory search of the premises was appropriate protocol for the situation.
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