Goldman Sachs targeted with death threats
Hand-written letters say hundreds will die; bank believes threat isn't credible.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The FBI is investigating letters sent to newspapers nationwide that say "Goldman Sachs. Hundreds will die. We are inside. You cannot stop us," the bureau said Friday, but government and company officials are downplaying the threat.
U.S. Postal Inspection Service said the letters were sent to 20 small to mid-size newspapers, including publications in Indiana, Texas, Idaho, Tennessee and New Jersey.
"We take these things very seriously," said FBI spokesman Bill Carter.
But he added, "We have no specific and credible information about a credible threat to Goldman Sachs other than these letters."
And Goldman spokesman Lucas Van Praag told CNN an FBI analysis has "concluded the threat is extraordinarily incredible," meaning the threat lacks credibility. The investment firm has been in close contact with the FBI on the issue since late June, he said.
The threat is unique in terms of specifically targeting Goldman employees, Van Praag added. A year ago, he said, there were threats against a number of U.S. banks.
"We have a broad range of security measures in place to counter all likely threats and we're monitoring the situation closely," a written statement from the bank reads.
The FBI does not yet know who mailed the letters, which were signed "A.Q.U.S.A.," FBI sources told CNN.
Authorities are working with Goldman Sachs (up $2.46 to $223.78, Charts, Fortune 500) to identify possible suspects, including disgruntled former or current employees or angry investment clients, Postal Inspection Service spokesperson Tom Boyle told CNN.
"Goldman has been very cooperative," he added.
All Goldman Sachs America employees received an e-mail just before 9 a.m. ET Friday from the company's Office of Global Security that said: "The firm is aware that a number of local newspapers in a few places in the U.S. have received anon[ymous] letters threatening the firm. We take any threat to the safety of our people and our business very seriously."
But it added, "We do not view this situation as a cause for concern."
The letters were postmarked on June 27 and mailed from the Queens borough of New York. Each letter was handwritten in red ink on loose-leaf paper, according to Boyle.
"There's potential for a lot of evidence," Boyle told CNN. "There's potential for DNA from the paper itself, the envelopes. They can get a lot of evidence from one piece of paper, you'd be surprised."
Papers that have received the letter include the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Journal Gazette, the New Jersey Star-Ledger, the Idaho Statesman , the Caller-Times of Corpus Christi, Texas, and the Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee.
Asked if investigators have an idea on why the letters were mailed to those newspapers, Boyle said, "We're trying to figure it out ourselves. ... Usually you'd think they would send it to the New York Times or L.A. Times."
Calls to New York and New Jersey FBI officials were not returned Friday.
Goldman Sachs, one of the world's top investment banks, had tight security even before 9/11, and hardened its offices even more after the World Trade Center attacks.