An emailed bomb threat demanding a ransom payment in bitcoin has hit schools, businesses, government facilities, and other locations all across the US, causing widespread panic and evacuations from coast to coast.
The threat is not considered to be credible.
"We're working a number of bomb threat calls in OKC. There have been similar threats called into several locations around the country. No credible threat found at this point," tweeted the Oklahoma City Police Department.
New York's counterterrorism force also said multiple locations in the city had received the email. "These threats are also being reported to other locations nationwide & are NOT considered credible at this time," the agency tweeted.
"At this time, it appears that these threats are meant to cause disruption and/or obtain money," the New York Police Department said. "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."
The emails appeared to be similar in nature with slight variations. In some, the subject line read, "Think twice"; in others: "Use your time wisely."
The body of the emails also appeared to have slight variations but the same general threat and demand.
"Hello. There is an explosive device (Tetryl) in the building where your company is conducted," began one email.
"Good day. There is the bomb (Hexogen) in the building where your business is located," began another.
The email goes on to ask for $20,000 to be transferred in bitcoin to an online account. "You must transfer money by the end of the workday, if the workday is over and people start leaving the building explosives will detonate," the email read.
In town after town, city after city, police departments responded to calls, oftentimes from multiple locations within a small radius.
In San Francisco, the Jewish Community Center was evacuated after it received the email. One City Plaza in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, was also evacuated. Campus and schools were on also lockdown in across the country, including Niagara County Community College in New York and Penn State University in Pennsylvania.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was "aware of recent bomb threats" and encouraged "the public to remain vigilant & to report suspicious activities."
The threats terrorized — and confused — some people.
Others thought a fake bomb threat asking for bitcoin was an apt ending to 2018.