WHEELING - A bomb threat that proved to be false forced evacuation of the downtown CVS Pharmacy on Market Street late Friday afternoon.
Wheeling police Lt. Rob Marriner said someone called the store around 5:30 p.m., saying there was someone outside in a car with a bomb. The caller told the employee to gather up all of the store's Green Dot MoneyPak cards - reloadable, prepaid debit cards - and load each of them up to the maximum $500, or the man would blow up the store.
Wheeling police, assisted by three bomb-sniffing dogs from the West Virginia State Police, checked the area and found no trace of explosives, Marriner said.
Threats to stores such as CVS, Dollar General and Rite Aid have become commonplace because they carry Green Dot cards. Marriner said a state trooper who responded to the scene told city police there have been eight similar incidents in the state recently.
"This is going on all over the country," he said. "Of course, we can't treat it that way."
Police do not have any leads on the source of the threat.
"They do not have caller ID," Marriner said of CVS. "We have no idea who it was."
Green Dot cards have become a method of choice for scam artists to target victims. In May, the Ohio County Sheriff's Department reported a scheme in which callers attempted to extract money from victims by claiming to be a court bailiff and informing them they had failed to show up for jury duty and would be jailed unless they purchased Green Dot cards and provided him the number, giving the scam artist access to the funds.