A wave of bomb threats swept across North America on Thursday, and Estevan was among the many communities that had local businesses hit with a moment of consternation.
"There were only a couple in Estevan. It was a case where we still attended, obviously to ensure safety, and made sure that there was nothing legitimate to it," stated Police Chief Paul Ladouceur, "Quite quickly we were able to determine that this was more of a fraud scam, and quite quickly we learned that this was something that was going on across the country, both in Canada and the U.S."
"This is not untypical of a lot of scammers out there, they come up with pretty lofty ideas of how they can milk money out of people and this is just one more of those."
He added that there will be a lot of work put into finding out who did the deed, and ensuring that they're 'brought to justice.'
The gist of the threat was an email sent out to many businesses across the continent, demanding a transfer of bitcoin in return for safety. The letter stated that there was an explosive device hidden inside the building that would be detonated if payment was not received.
As a result, quite a few places of business and public transport were evacuated in numerous cities across Canada and the United States, prompting attention from counter terrorism agencies as well as the FBI and a lot of regional law enforcement units. It didn't take long for them to label it a hoax.
While the police can often trace the number (if the scam is over phone) back to it's point of origination, much of the legwork has to be done by the victim of the scam.
"Anything you can do to try and determine as much information as possible while you have the caller on the line. If it's a physical call, where someone's called in a threat or a bomb threat, then certainly try and get as much information from that person as you can...do they have any kind of accent, what exactly their demands are, what exactly they're looking for. The more information the better, essentially," said Ladouceur.
When it comes to threats that come in electronically over the internet, such as email, Ladouceur recommends that you keep the letter, don't delete it. Save a copy for police. Try not to use your computer too much afterwards, either, if at all until the police arrive and take a look it directly. This is in case one accidentally deletes a small piece of evidence that could crack the case. That applies to any fraudulent communication you receive.
"You'll find that many, many times when those threats are made, we do find the individuals responsible. We track them down and we are able to lay criminal charges...you're playing a very dangerous game when you start making threats against people's lives with explosives. Let me tell you, as police we have endless resources to try and track down those individuals and bring them to justice."
The investigation into this particular, widespread occurrence will see cooperation on an international level to get it solved, and that includes participation from the Estevan Police Service.
"When we see stuff like this, where it's national or international, the RCMP are involved as well. So are numerous police services that we work collaboratively with, where we determine there's links and it may be the same individuals."
Meanwhile, Ladouceur asks you to report any incidents of such communication immediately to police.