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Hoax email bomb threats disrupt schools, businesses nationwide

Schools and businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other states were among those that received threats. The messages have not been considered credible.

A bomb squad.
A bomb squad.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS (custom credit) / DN

Law enforcement officials and first responders in Pennsylvania and across the nation were forced to react to hundreds of bomb threats Thursday, sent in similar emails to schools, businesses, and government buildings.

The threats were made in small towns and big cities, prompting police responses and some evacuations in places ranging from California to Massachusetts. None of the threats was described by law enforcement as credible. It wasn’t immediately clear whether or how the threats were linked, how many were made, or who was behind them.

Some of the emails had the subject line, “Think Twice.” They were sent from a spoofed email address. The sender claimed to have had an associate plant a small bomb in the recipient’s building and said the only way to stop him from setting it off was by making an online payment of $20,000 in bitcoin.

“We are currently monitoring multiple bomb threats that have been sent electronically to various locations throughout the city,” the New York City Police Department’s counterterrorism unit tweeted. “These threats are also being reported to other locations nationwide & are NOT considered credible at this time.”

Other law enforcement agencies also dismissed the threats, which were written in a choppy style reminiscent of the “Nigerian prince” email scam.

In Philadelphia, police said they had “received several tips about bomb threats being made via email,” but had no reason to believe them plausible.

“Like many other law enforcement agencies across the country, we have received several tips about bomb threats being made via email,” Philadelphia police said. “At this time, we don’t have any reason to believe that any of these threats are credible. Still, we ask that folks remain vigilant, and to report any suspicious activity immediately.”

Police didn’t provide additional details about the Philadelphia threats.

Police in Conshohocken also responded to several bomb threats Thursday.

At Pennsylvania State University, police worked with the FBI to investigate the email threat that was received by individuals in multiple locations across the state, according to a university statement.

While there was an additional police presence at the buildings apparently targeted, the campuses remained open and the threat did not appear to be legitimate, the statement said.

In York, students returned to class at Eastern York Middle School after K-9 units cleared the campus to investigate a bomb threat Thursday morning, as did students at Linden High School in New Jersey following a threat that was called in to the school.

Lancaster City police reported an investigation into similar email bomb threats at two county businesses, noting that law enforcement across the country was responding to like threats.

Threats were also reported at schools in Western Pennsylvania and businesses in the south-central part of the state.

In Iowa, the Cedar Rapids Police Department posted a copy of the threat email to its Facebook page, encouraging any recipients of the message to notify law enforcement.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.