Pasadena grocery store targeted in bomb threat scam; incident similar to others reported nationwide

PASADENA — A caller threatened to bomb a Pasadena grocery store and unsuccessfully demanded the manager deposit money on prepaid cash cards Friday in what officials said appears to be part of a nationwide crime trend.
The incident unfolded about 2:45 p.m. at Vons, 2355 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said.
The caller demanded the store manager load money onto prepaid card accounts, saying a bomb would detonate at the store if he did not, the lieutenant said. The voice was described as male.
The manager did not comply and immediately contacted police, Gourdikian said.
“We searched the store,” he said. “Nothing unusual was found.”
Store officials indicated the threat appeared to be consistent with similar calls being received by retail stores throughout the United States in recent months, Gourdikian said.
“They do it remotely,” he said. “It’s not clear if the suspects are in the city.”
Similar threatening calls elsewhere in the country have been found to originate from overseas, internet-based numbers, according to an alert issued in September by the FBI’s Atlanta Division on the heels of more than 10 such calls in that jurisdiction.
“To date, no explosives devices gave been found anywhere in the country linked to this type of threat,” according to the September statement.
Updated information regarding the incidents nationwide was not available late Friday.
Store officials could not be reached for comment.
The callers generally demand that money be placed loaded onto a type of prepaid card called Green Dot MoneyPak cards, according to the FBI.
“Green Dot MoneyPak cards are re-loadable and available at most retail outlets throughout the country and, like money wire transfers, are just as untraceable,” the FBI statement said. “These cards are not associated with any bank, meaning that the money is in the card. Users of these Green Dot MoneyPak cards are reminded to never give anyone those numbers associated with those cards in that doing so gives them instant access to the money on those cards.”
It was not clear late Friday whether the Pasadena incident involved the same type of cards.
Anyone with information regarding the “emerging scam” was urged to contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complain Center online at

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