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Officials: Bomb threat emails sent around country are hoax

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- A series of emailed bomb threats to government buildings, schools and businesses Thursday so far has turned out to be nothing more than an elaborate hoax and extortion attempt.

In a late Thursday afternoon news release, the Grand Rapids Police Department said it was "warning the community about a widespread phishing scam using a bomb threat via email to target victims." Captain Mike Maycroft told FOX at GRPD headquarters that the threats are being taken seriously, but as of late Thursday no evidence of explosives was found anywhere locally or in Michigan.

The Battle Creek Police Department, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff and Grand Rapids Police  all sent out alerts Thursday afternoon, warning of the messages.

The GRPD said the threatening email states that, in order to deactivate the bomb, an electronic financial transaction needed to be sent. The locations GRPD officers had responded to by late Thursday afternoon were: University Prep Academy (512 S. Division), Bucher Hydrolic (1363 Michigan St NE), Mary Freebed Hospital (235 Wealthy St SE), and Mr. Pizza (545 Michigan St NE).

In a press release, the Grand Rapids Police Department released the following statement:

"Taken into account there were no additional indicators of threat outside of the email, each of these businesses made their own independent decision on how the business responded which is consistent with the GRPD policy and procedure. Area law enforcement agencies communicate all real or reported bomb threats to each other and it was soon learned that the scope of this phishing scam was effecting area agencies as well. The Michigan State Police (MSP) has been notified and is receiving similar reports across the state. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has been made aware and they indicate that the email is being distributed across the country."

Authorities believe the emails originated outside the country, and were merely an opportunity to try to solicit money. Police said recipients of such emails should not send any money. And you can report it by calling 911.

CNN is reporting that emails were received at University of Washington in Seattle, various locations in San Francisco and at Penn State University.  More reports of the threat are still coming in.

The Associated Press is reporting say the bomb threats were sent to dozens of schools, universities and other locations across the U.S.

Sample of the email threat

The New York City Police Department said the threats sent Thursday were meant to cause disruption and compel recipients into sending money and are not considered credible.

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 credible.

Across the country, some schools were closed early and others were evacuated because of the threats. Penn State University noticed students via a campus alert. Near Atlanta, people were ushered out of a courthouse.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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