Law enforcement officers from several North Texas cities report responding to a wave of bomb threats Thursday that appear to be part of a nationwide hoax that appears to be an extortion attempt.
Some of the emails, which were sent from a spoofed email address, had the subject line: "Think Twice." Inside, the sender claimed to have had an associate plant a small bomb in the recipient's building and that the only way to stop him from setting it off was by making an online payment of $20,000 in Bitcoin.
The threats caused concern and evacuations at various schools, businesses and government buildings around the country. At this time, all of the threats recieved appear to be hoaxes, officials said.
The FBI, which is investigating the emails, encouraged the public to remain vigilant and to report suspicious activity that could be a threat to public safety.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Dallas police said they answered nearly 20 calls for service related to bomb threats received via email. City officials in Fort Worth said the fire department's bomb and arson units have been alerted to several email bomb threats sent to area businesses and organizations -- all demanding ransom be paid vai Bitcoin.
In Arlington, Police Chief Will Johnson said his department has responded to five threats in the city after receiving an email saying an explosive devices were at particular locations. Johnson said the calls were similar in nature to others being reported around the country and that the calls his department responded to were not credible.
Trinity Title of Texas was among them. Delora Chapman, manager of the Arlington office, says the company's president made the decision to evacuate all of thier offices after making a call to the FBI.
"How did these people think of all of these horrible things to do and why? Why would they want to do something like that and send it to an innocent person and interrupt their day and their life and you know, put that kind of stress on them?" said Chapman.
Frisco police said their department was investigating multiple bomb threats directed at several locations in the city and that, like the others, were deemed fakes.
Corinth police said a threat at a hair salon also determined to be a hoax and officers in Southlake investigated two bomb threats at area businesses that were also bogus.
Still, the threats were enough to prompt evacuations in some places.
In Wylie, just after noon, the city's municipal complex was evacuated after an employee received an email indicating there was a bomb inside the building. Police evacuated all employees and customers from city hall, the library and the recreation center; a search for the device was performed but nothing was found. Wylie municipal complex will remain closed for the remainder of the day.
In what may or may not be a related incident, Liberty Christian School in Argyle canceled all classes and activities Thursday after a student received a message on Snapchat from a non-Liberty student threatening a school with the name "Liberty." The FBI, Homeland Security and Argyle Police Department investigated the threat for credibility and determined the threat was likely related to an incident in another state. Liberty has been cleared to resume normal school activity for Friday, where there will be additional security on campus.
NBC News reports the Oklahoma City Police Department said there were between 10 and 13 specific email bomb threats with specific addresses in and around Oklahoma City -- none of those threats were credible.
Threats were also received elsewhere around the country including New York City, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Orlando, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Colorado and Connecticut -- and even Anchorage, Alaska.
The New York City Police Department said the threats sent Thursday were meant to cause disruption and compel recipients into sending money -- some of the emails had the subject line: "Think Twice."
The Palm Beach County, Florida sheriff's office and the Boise, Idaho police said they had no reason to believe that threats made to locations in those areas were real.
Elsewhere, Penn State University noticed students via a campus alert. Near Atlanta, people were ushered out of a courthouse.
Police are working with the FBI to investigate every threat.