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Protecting Your Business Against Extortion Bomb Threats

Washington, D.C. August 30, 2007
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691

Several financial and commercial institutions throughout the United States have received extortion telephone calls threatening to blow up their organization unless a large sum of money was wired to an overseas bank account.  Criminal intelligence analysts are sifting through local police reports to identify similarities in the threats.  In addition, the FBI has launched a public campaign on how to respond to a potential bomb threat.

“The FBI, in close cooperation with our other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, is working to identify those responsible and bring them to justice,” said Assistant Director Kenneth W. Kaiser, FBI Criminal Investigative Division.  “These are serious criminal offenses and the FBI needs the public assistance and information related to potential bomb threats.”

We recognize these threats may be alarming to the public and suggest the following steps and questions be asked when responding to a potential phone-in bomb threat:

1. Questions to ask the caller:
When is the bomb going to explode?
Where is the bomb located right now?
What does it look like?
What kind of bomb is it?
What will cause it to explode?
Did you place the bomb?
What is your address?
What is your name?
What is your phone number?

2. Document the EXACT wording of the threat and caller’s response.

3. Apparent gender, race, and age of the caller.

4. Characteristics of the caller’s voice (calm, angry, excited, accent, etc.)

5. Background sounds (street noises, static on the line, etc.)

6. Threat Language (well spoken, incoherent, taped, irrational)

7. If caller ID is available, write down the telephone number.

8. If businesses are capable of recording telephone calls, maintain them for police.