Bomb threat emails demanding Bitcoin spark fear from San Francisco to New York

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Waves of bomb threats, sent via email and demanding payment in Bitcoin, sent shock waves around the country on Thursday, from San Francisco and Santa Rosa to New York and Idaho.

Authorities say bomb threats sent to dozens of schools, universities and other locations across the U.S. appear to be a hoax.

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. No bombs were ever found. The FBI said agents were "aware of the situation" and urged people to report any suspicious activity.

The Bay Area started to feel the effects of the threats beginning at 10 a.m. That's when San Francisco police said they responded to about 20 bomb threats throughout the city, including one at the San Francisco Credit Union.

Glenn Gortney, a senior vice president there, told reporters the credit union received an email saying a bomb had been put in the building and the sender was demanding some form of payment. Approximately 100 employees were evacuated. The building was searched and was given an all clear. 

"Earlier this morning we received an email communication here at the credit union from an individual or entity who was notifying us that they had planted an explosive devise on site and they were demanding payment,"  he said.

As a result, even though the Jewish Community Center was not a target, it was evacuated at 11 a.m.,  but reopened around 1 p.m. SkyFox flew over the building at 3200 California Street, which showed some yellow crime scene tape and a few patrol cars.

Also, about the same time across the country, other people and agencies reported that they were receiving bomb threats via email. Some of the threats ordered the receiver to send $20,000 via Bitcoin or the sender would blow up their place of work. The FBI tweeted that the agency was "aware of the recent bomb threats" made in cities around the country and agents asked the public to report suspicious activities.

Santa Rosa and San Jose police also reported investigating similar threats at schools and businesses. In Santa Rosa, police said there was no credible evidence related to an email that appears to be a bomb threat demanding payment in Bitcoin.

The threats cropped up in cities large and small. The Massachusetts State Police, for example, tweeted its fusion center was tracking multiple bomb threats sent across the state. So did police in Iowa, Utah and elsewhere.

New York police tweeted that the counter terrorism department was "currently monitoring multiple bomb threats that have been sent out electronically to various locations within the city."


KTVU's Christien Kafton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.