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Local businesses receive threats in nationwide hoax

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Two Roswell businesses reported receiving threatening emails Thursday, part of a nationwide bomb-threat hoax meant to extort money from private and public entities throughout the country.

The Roswell Police Department was contacted Thursday by the FBI informing them of the bomb-threat hoax, according to a press release from the RPD, but that the threats are not thought to represent an actual danger to the public.

A threat was emailed Thursday to Anderson Bethany Funeral Home on the 2900 block of South Main Street Thursday, Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the RPD stated in an email.

Later in the day, Wildermuth said in an email that MECA Therapies at the 1400 block of West Second Street also reported receiving a similar email at 2:15 p.m.

Wildermuth said the exact content of the email messages could not be provided at this point, but the release states the emails appear to demand electronic payment using bitcoin – a form of cryptocurrency — and that payments be made to a bitcoin wallet.

So far, threats have been made by email but other forms of communication could also potentially be used.

Frank Fisher, public affairs director at the FBI’s Albuquerque bureau, confirmed in an email that the FBI is aware of the threats and remain in touch with law enforcement across the country to provide assistance.

“As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety,” Fisher stated in an email.

Similar emails led to searches and evacuations at hundreds of schools, businesses and government buildings across the nation Thursday. Penn State University notified students by text message about such threats that were made to half a dozen buildings and an airport on its main campus.

Other targets evacuated as a result of such email threats Thursday included the city hall building in Aurora, Illinois; the office of the News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina; a courthouse in Atlanta and businesses in Detroit.

Any individual or local business who receives such an email should preserve it and call the RPD at 575-624-6770 and federal agents who are leading the investigation into the threatening emails will then be informed, according to the release.

The Associated Press also contributed to this story.