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Single-day bomb threat hoaxes sweep nation – evacuations, school lockdowns, more

People evacuate the 1818 Market Street building in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the 2011 Virginia earthquake. (Douglas Muth/Flickr)
December 13, 2018

Bomb threats have swept across the nation on Thursday, but reports indicated that they were all hoaxes.

UPDATE, 9:30 p.m. EST – The Department of Homeland Security released a statement on the rampant bomb threats.

The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), part of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), is aware of a worldwide email campaign targeting businesses and organizations with bomb threats. The emails claim that a device will detonate unless a ransom in Bitcoin is paid.

If you receive a bomb threat email, NCCIC recommends the following actions:

Schools and businesses in numerous states reported evacuations and lockdowns after receiving bomb threats Thursday morning, only for media reports to later show that these threats surfaced in the form of email hoaxes, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Cities such as New York City, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Orlando, Denver, Grand Rapids, and more were among those targeted by the bomb threats.

The New York City Police Department tweeted, “Please be advised – there is an email being circulated containing a bomb threat asking for bitcoin payment. While this email has been sent to numerous locations, searches have been conducted and NO DEVICES have been found.”

“At this time, it appears that these threats are meant to cause disruption and/or obtain money. We’ll respond to each call regarding these emails to conduct a search but we wanted to share this information so the credibility of these threats can be assessed as likely NOT CREDIBLE,” NYPD added.

Grand Rapids Police tweeted, “SCAM ALERT: There is a rampant hoax email being distributed across the country of a bomb threat making demands for money. Emails began locally around 1 pm. We do NOT believe these emails have any validity and direct you to delete email. Do NOT send money.”

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department tweeted, “Multiple businesses throughout LVMPD’s jurisdiction have received an email bomb threat, similar to those reported nationally. These hoax bomb threats seem to be related to each other. The threats are being investigated and no devices have been located at this time.”

The FBI’s Washington division said they’re aware of the threats and continue to communicate with local law enforcement agencies.

It’s not yet clear where the emails originated from. The emails have been sent using hijacked email addresses, making them appear as though they’re from legitimate individuals.

This article has been updated to add the Department of Homeland Security statement.