TAMPA — Aboriginal Tuesday morning, the admiral of Hillsborough Community Academy accustomed a circuitous email analogue horror-movie abandon to be inflicted aloft HCC’s campus if assertive payments were not made.
Across Florida, in Tampa and Gainesville and Tallahassee, added academy and university presidents’ inboxes were lighting up with the aforementioned extortion threat, able an barrage of apocryphal bombing and cutting threats until, the sender claimed, one would prove real.
It’s not bright yet how abounding institutions got the 1,250-word message, or whether it was bound to Florida. Abounding agencies are investigating, including campus badge departments and the FBI, admitting few specifics are accessible at this aboriginal stage.
“We’re aloof auspicious the accessible to abide acute and address any apprehensive action that could represent a blackmail to accessible safety, and we’re deferring any campus aegis apropos to the campuses,” said Andrea Aprea, accessible diplomacy specialist for the FBI Tampa Division.
HCC Admiral Ken Atwater emailed students, adroitness and agents on Wednesday to admonish them of the apprehensive message. He said “numerous counterparts” in Florida academy apprenticeship got it, too.
“Unfortunately, emails of this attributes are acceptable added common,” Atwater wrote. “I do appetite to assure you, however, that all threats adjoin the academy are advised with the absolute gravity.”
The University of Florida got the aforementioned message. So did the University of South Florida and Florida Gulf Coast University.
UF backer Janine Sikes said she was affected on emails referencing the blackmail at the University of Central Florida, the University of North Florida and Florida State, too.
“We get a lot of these kinds of non-credible threats,” Sikes said. “This affectionate seemed a little bit added organized.”
UF, like added recipients, alerted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
“After they conferred, they basically bent that this is a scam,” Sikes said. “It does acquiesce us to use it as a admonition that if bodies see something, they should say something.”
The apprehensive email is accounting so that it doesn’t accomplish any advertence to a specific campus or institution. It demands a acquittal of 1.2 bitcoin, or about $18,035 in the volatile, untraceable agenda currency.
Should the almsman refuse, the sender threatens to allowance a advance of confusion, authoritative again apocryphal threats of bombings and accumulation shootings.
“One of these threats will be legitimate. Which one will be a surprise,” the email reads. “You will be affected to abandon the campus.”
The sender adds a affecting twist: “Every night I will cycle a distinct die. If a six comes up, I will acquaint my compatriots to chase through on the advance and annihilate as abounding bodies as accessible … It will be accessible ability that you bootless to booty this blackmail seriously.”
The sender asked for acquittal by apex Wednesday. On the HCC campus, that borderline came and went.
“We are still actuality and accept accustomed annihilation further,” backer Ashley Carl wrote in an email.
Contact Claire McNeill at [email protected]
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