Phase Three: Profit!

Andrei Marks · August 31, 2007

This one’s from the 2007-08-31 print of the Beijing Paper (新京报) on page A31 in the International News–Middle East, Americas, and Africa section. Written by Tang Shuo, and it’s from the Xinhua Press. This one takes us back to the good old contiguous 48, and a terror threat scam. I feel like it’s sort of out of place among the “Reports on Iraq”, “Protests in Chile”, and “Political Machinations in Congress and Parliament”, but I suppose the plethora of “terror threats” justifies its placement here. And to alleviate any potential anxiety the thought of “terror threats” might cause you (Don’t Panic), I’ll tell you now they’re not really “terror threats” as in “terrorism”. And sorry to spoil the fun, but it says, at the very end, that the culprits seem to be from Portugal. Damned Portuguese.

Ah, and Wikipedia is blocked entirely now.

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U.S. Supermarkets Receive A Series of “Mystery” Terror Threats


- In a week 15 U.S. supermarkets and convenience stores have received terror threats; the police still haven’t arrested any suspects.


Throughout America, large scale convenience stores, supermarkets, and banks have been receiving a succession of “mystery” phone threats. The callers normally threaten to set off a bomb, and require shop employees to wire money to an overseas account. On the 29th American police and the FBI confirmed that they’ve already opened up an investigation.

Banks Also Received Threatening Phone Calls

Investigators already know that the first terror threat case occurred on the 23rd. The caller threatened a Safeway Supermarket chain-store in Sandy, Oregon. Sandy police chief Harold Skelton said that, in the beginning, the caller claimed that he was holding a gun and watching the supermarket, and he demanded that the shop employee wire money. When he was refused, he said that he had a bomb.

On the 30th the American media reported, that in the past week at the very least 15 convenience stores and supermarkets in 11 states have phone threats. And several banks have also received the same type of calls. A few supermarkets, whose employees were frightened by the caller’s threats, complied with their demands and sent several thousand U.S. dollars to an assigned overseas account. A few store personnel immediately called the police. After receiving those calls the police and bomb squad dispersed the staff in the supermarkets, and began long searches, but did not discover any bombs. As of today, this series of threatening calls still hasn’t resulted in any casualties, and the police have yet to apprehend any suspects.

A U.S. Security Bureau official said that the callers say they have placed a bomb in the stores, and demand that the supermarket wire money to a specified account. The callers often also say that they can see what’s happening inside the supermarket. But investigators believe that this is just a threatening tactic, and the callers are probably thousands of miles away.

General Anxiety in Supermarkets After the Terror Threats

From Newport, Rhode Island to Vista, California, after supermarkets and convenience stores throughout the country have received threatening calls, there is popular anxiety.

In Buchanan, Michigan a Hardings Supermarket received a threatening phone call on the 27th. The caller ordered the shop employees to lock the main door, sit on the ground, and demanded US$3,000 to be wired. Because he worried that getting a call from the police would make the ruffian set off the bomb, the extremely fearful store manager went so far as to hang up the incoming police line. Berrien County police sheriff Paul Bailey said that in order to make a more distinct threat, the caller also gave the police department a call, and told them that they were hold the shop employees as “hostages”.

In a Dillons Convenience store in Hutchinson, Kansas received a threatening call on the 28th. The caller ordered all the employees and customers to take off their clothes. A customer named James Peterson said that at the time people were frightened and lost their heads, “Many people were pulling off their clothes, yelling ‘No! No!’“

On the 29th a threatening call was made to a Hannaford Supermarket in Millinocket, Maine. The state’s Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said that an employee going to work was amazed to discover the supermarket’s door locked, and inside the store all the employees and customers were sitting on the ground in a circle.

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The second section under the heading “Developments”:

The Phone Threat Came From Portugal

After a Safeway in Prescott, Arizona received a threatening call on the 28th, the FBI began to take notice of this phone threat affair, and suspected that there was a link existing between all of them.

“We are aware that Safeway Supermarket chains throughout the country have received similar threats,” said FBI special agent Deborah McCarley, “We are now investigating whether or not they are related”. FBI spokesperson Rich Kolko said that the phone threat cases are all similar, “And it is probably the same individual or group of individuals”, which are targeting banks and supermarkets across America with this scam. The FBI is currently investigating whether or not the phone threats came outside the United States. Investigators already firmly believe that the phone call made to the Prescott Safeway Supermarket came from Portugal.

Western Union spokesperson Shelly Johnson says that the company is now cooperating with the FBI’s investigative work, tracking where the wired money went. Wal-Mart Superstore, Inc. also said that they are cooperating with the investigation.



Translator’s Notes:
- It’s kind of difficult to know exactly what this article translates types of stores as. Because in China the most prevalent type of foodstuff/stuff store is a 超市, literally a portmanteau for a supermarket. But in America supermarkets almost exclusively offer food, well, there’s plenty of other household goods/cleaners available, but it’s not to the extent of the 超市. Not many supermarkets back home, that I know of, sell clothing for instance. And now there’s this new word (new to me) in this article, 杂货店 (lit. many-goods shop, trans. general/convenience store) which I suppose I’ll used convenience store for. But both general store and convenience store seem a little too small-scale for what was going on here, and who says general store anymore? Oh, but Wal-Mart is Wal-Mart wherever you go. So is Ikea.
- Interesting, it seems like you can’t say “an U.S. something”, you have to say “a U.S. something”. I guess the a/an rule doesn’t apply to long u vowel starts.
- Concerning the popular anxiety introduction. It seems kind of ambiguous to me, whether I should translate this as just those store’s staff and shoppers getting anxious or a nationwide anxiety. Big difference, I know.
- The writer uses 歹徒, which translates as ruffian or evildoer. Another good word that I will translate directly just because it sounds more fun, and you don’t see ruffian or evildoer enough in print these days.
- Not sure about the Western Union spokesperson’s name, Shelley Johnson is an educated guess.

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