Wave of bomb threats demanding money traced to IP address overseas

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Police across Tennessee are investigating numerous bomb threats received Thursday by email. The threats involved 10 locations in Nashville, including private schools such as St. Cecilia Academy, local businesses and even a cemetery.  

TEMA tells News 2 there were threats statewide. And similar threats were coming into other cities around the nation.

Franklin police said 4 threats were received at non-residential locations starting at 12:26 p.m. Thursday. In all four cases, emails were sent to those locations demanding bitcoins in exchange for not detonating a device they claimed to have placed in each building. Authorities believe this is part of a hoax that is coming from outside the country. Police said they found nothing suspicious at any of the locations. 

Police in Lawrenceburg and Mountain City were investigating threats with a demand for money that threatened to set off an explosive device if payment was not made. 

In Clarksville, police and Homeland Security teams were at a business off the 41A Bypass, where they received this email threat: 

“Good day. There is an explosive device (Tetryl) in the building where your business is located. It was built according to my guide. It can be hidden anywhere because of its small size, it is impossible to damage the structure of the building by this bomb, but if it explodes there will be many victims. My recruited person is controlling the situation around the building. If he sees any unnatural activity or emergency he will power the device. I want to suggest you a bargain. 20’000 usd is the cost for your safety and business. Tansfer it to me in Bitcoin and I warrant that I will withdraw my recruited person and the bomb will not detonate. But do not try to fool me- my warranty will become actual only after 3 confirms in blockchain. It is my BTC address : (redacted) You have to solve problems with the transfer by the end of the working day, if the working day is over and people start leaving the building the bomb will detonate. Nothing personal, if you don’t transfer me the bitcoins and the explosive device explodes, next time other commercial enterprises will send me a lot more, because it isnt a one-time action. For security and anonymity reasons, I will not log into this email account. I monitor my Bitcoin address every thirty min and if I see the bitcoins I will order my recruited person to leave your area. If an explosion occurred and the authorities read this message: We are not terrorists and do not assume any responsibility for explosions in other buildings.” 

News 2 talked to Rick Shipkowski, at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. He said emails received statewide and nationwide were traced to a Russian IP address and appeared to be a hoax or a scam. They lacked specifics and the writing was choppy. They all demanded money, $20,000 US in bitcoin. 

“It’s a criminal enterprise,” said Shipkowski, “involving people who were hoping to make money.

The scam affected people, schools, businesses, government agencies across the country. 

The city of Atlanta got similar emailed threats at businesses and schools, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The New York City Police Department cited an email circulating containing a bomb threat and asking for bitcoin payment. The NYPD said, “it appears these threats are meant to cause disruption and/or obtain money.” They are investigating but believe these are not credible.

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

Authorities in Massachusetts, Chicago, and 7 Canadian cities, including Winnipeg, Montreal, and Toronto were also tracking multiple bomb threats deemed not credible.

The FBI tells News 2 it is aware of similar bomb threats around the country and is in touch with local police. They “encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities.”

Check back for more details as they come in. 

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