Banks face bioterrorism hoaxes

Threatening letters containing powdery substances target banks and federal agencies, FBI says.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Terry Frieden, CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The number of banks and other agencies reporting threatening hoax letters containing a powdery substance has grown to nearly four dozen institutions in 11 states and the District of Columbia, the FBI said Wednesday.

The 45-plus cases are an increase from the 30 in eight states known as of Tuesday. The FBI, U.S. postal inspectors and state and local authorities are investigating, resulting in what FBI spokesman Richard Kolko called "a drain on resources" for those agencies.

"Even sending a hoax letter is a serious crime and law enforcement will continue to work to identify and arrest those responsible," Kolko said in a written statement. "The FBI and our law enforcement partners are following up on numerous leads and if anyone has information they are requested to contact the FBI, USPIS or local authorities."

Postal inspectors offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the conviction of those behind the hoax letters, which they said were mailed late last week.

As of Tuesday, financial institutions in New York, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, Oklahoma, Georgia and Texas had been targeted by the letters. On Wednesday, that list had grown to include Virginia, California and Arizona, the FBI reported.

Kolko said field tests on the powder included in the letters have found no sign of a hazardous material, but additional tests were being conducted.

The letters contained a message of anger concerning the "banking situation," one law enforcement official told CNN. The official refused to speak on the record because the investigation is ongoing.

The official said most of the letters have been sent to branches of JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500).

Two other officials said that all the letters were postmarked in Amarillo, Texas. And not all of the recipients were banks, officials said. Letters were also sent to the offices of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of Thrift Supervision, federal agencies that oversee financial institutions. To top of page

Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
Greeks talk austerity and government ineptitude Forget Brussels. Here is what everyday Greeks think about the crisis. More
Graffiti about crisis fills Athens' streets Artists are taking to the streets to express their views on the Greek crisis. More
My whirlwind 24 hours in Taiwan as a bridal supermodel Unlike the West, Taiwanese brides-to-be sit for hun sha ?? photo sessions before their actual wedding day. The photos are seen as a status symbol as well as a way to capture the brides' youth and glamor. More
Sponsors