Massachusetts State Police

Police Investigating Bitcoin Bomb Threats Across New England

The email threats demanded bitcoin payments and referenced the potential for "many victims"

What to Know

  • Businesses and private residences in Massachusetts and across New England have received hoax threats demanding bitcoin payments
  • The threats are part of a nationwide pattern of similar threats received by email or phone on Thursday
  • Authorities said they don't believe the threats to be credible and say they're likely a hoax

Federal, state and local police are investigating after bomb threats were emailed to at least a dozen private businesses and residences across New England, demanding bitcoin payments and referencing the potential for "many victims."

Massachusetts State Police said the Commonwealth Fusion Center is tracking all of the activity. The fusion center reports that so far, at least 14 communities have reported similar threats. Lowell police said they were told more than 30 threats were received.

Authorities in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont said bomb threats were received in those states as well.

Police across the country said similar threats have been received by businesses, schools, government facilities and private residences.

An email received by a Hingham private investigative firm said that a bomb had been hidden in the building, and that "you will get many victims if it explodes." The message said the building was being watched and threatened that the bomb would be detonated if police were called.

"My man is watching the situation around the building," the letter said. "If any suspicious activity, panic or policeman is noticed he will power the bomb."

The email asked that $20,000 in bitcoin be transferred to an account by the end of the day in order to prevent the bomb from being detonated. It ended by saying, "We are not terrorists and don't assume any responsibility for explosions in other buildings."

Authorities said at this point, there are no indications of any explosives located or detonated at any of the locations.

"SP (state police) and partner agencies on federal and local levels are conducting risk assessment procedures regarding the threats and will determine appropriate responses," read a tweet from state police.

The FBI's Boston Division said it is aware of the bomb threats locally across the country and remains in touch with its law enforcement partners to provide assistance.

"As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety," the FBI said in a statement.

Boston police confirmed a bomb threat was received at 88 Exeter St., and said multiple similar threats have come in throughout the city. The exact number is not yet known.

According to its executive director, the famed Boston Opera House, which is hosting the iconic "The Nutcracker," received the emailed threat around 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon. 

"We contacted Boston Police, they sent the bomb squad and the canine unit over, swept the building," Executive Director Jim Jensen said.

Jensen knew something was up when he read the email.

"If you read the email, it didn't look real," he said. "I didn't feel threatened at any given point, just wanted to make sure."

Thursday night's performance of "The Nutcracker" was not impacted by the threat.

The Langham Hotel on Franklin Street in Boston said it received an emailed bomb threat around 1:50 p.m. Police responded and deemed the hotel safe.

The Steamship Authority was also targeted.

"We're taking it very seriously," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said of the threats. "We're not sure exactly what's the circumstance around it, but certainly we're telling people anytime you get a threat like that, take it serious. You just don't know what's going to happen."

In Hingham, police responded to bomb threats at businesses on Derby and Central streets. Both were evacuated but the threats were determined to be unfounded. Hingham Police said both scenes have been cleared and the banks have reopened.

Cambridge police said they responded to at least four reports involving bomb threats emailed to local businesses. They said the threats were investigated and nothing suspicious was found.

Lowell police said they also responded to four separate incidents, one at the city's water department, two at local businesses and one at a private residence.

Burlington said an unspecified number of businesses in town received email bomb threats. They said they consider the threats "very low level."

Braintree Police said they received two reports of incidents via email also demanding bitcoin. Neither threat was credible.

Police in Concord said they responded to two different locations in town that received threats of some kind.

Police in Medway said they are investigating after a bank on Main Street received a message for a reported extortion attempt.

Authorities said the Charles River Bank received an email at 1:20 p.m. from someone asking for an undisclosed amount of money or a bomb would allegedly go off at the location.

Threats were also received in Pepperell and Worcester, and by the Steamship Authority in Woods Hole, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

Police in Manchester, New Hampshire said they received two reports on Thursday afternoon of emailed bomb threats from locations on North Commercial and Elm streets.

Vermont State Police said they are investigating five bomb threats received across the state. So far, they have found no indication that any of the threats are credible.

Police in Portland, Maine said threats were made to multiple businesses there.

A bomb threat was reported at Tasca Automotive Group in Cranston, Rhode Island as well.

Similar investigations are also underway in several Connecticut communities.

Police said they are not sure if the local threats are related to the nationwide bomb threats, but the incidents appear to be similar. Anyone who receives a similar threat is urged to contact police.

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