Caller demands cryptocurrency ransom in fake Vail bomb threat
April 24, 2018
VAIL — A man threatened to blow up a West Vail apartment if he wasn’t paid a $20,000 ransom in cryptocurrency.
The fake bomb threat closed a West Vail street for three hours Saturday night, April 21.
The caller used a hacked phone to call the Vail Dispatch Center at approximately 6:38 p.m. Saturday, April 21. He claimed there were four pressure cooker bombs in a condominium complex on Garmisch Drive in West Vail. In the 911 recording, he told dispatchers he wanted $20,000 ransom delivered by an unarmed police officer to a different Vail apartment or he would detonate the bombs.
In an earlier email to the phone’s owner, he demanded that the owner transfer around $20,000 in Bytecoin and told him where to send it. The hacker also said he was going “ruin” the phone owner’s life.
Vail Police and Fire departments were on the scene in less than two minutes, joined quickly by Eagle County Paramedic Services, Eagle County Special Operations Unit and the Jefferson County Bomb Squad.
The phone call was recorded and tracked, and the owner of the phone located in East Vail, on the other side of town from where the caller said the bombs were planted, Vail Police said.
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The preliminary investigation revealed that the call was placed fictitiously and that the phone’s real owner did not authorize it or know about it, Vail Police said.
Vail Police quickly determined that there was no threat to the public.
Garmisch Drive was closed from approximately 6:40 p.m. until about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, while the incident was being investigated.
Public Safety alerts were sent advising voluntary evacuations on all of Garmisch Drive and mandatory evacuations of the affected condominium complex.
No arrests have yet been made, and the case remains under investigation as police try to determine who made the call.
SECOND FAKE THREAT IN TWO WEEKS
A fake bomb threat closed U.S. Highway 24 through Minturn for more than four hours a week ago Saturday night, April 14.
That caller phoned the threat to dispatchers, saying a bomb had been planted on the bridge on Minturn’s Cemetery Road, leading to Little Beach Park.
There wasn’t a bomb, said the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
Still, Minturn residents were ordered to “shelter in place,” stay in their homes or wherever they were at the time, while local law enforcement officials and first responders sorted it all out.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.