Police are addressing multiple bomb threats in the Chicago area Thursday afternoon, resulting in evacuations and warnings of a potential scam as other threats surfaced nationwide.
In many of the incidents, businesses reported receiving an emailed threat demanding money in bitcoins. Police suspect the emails could be part of a larger phishing scam.
The South Elgin Police Department received a report of a bomb threat at 12:49 p.m. in the 500 block of Division Drive in South Elgin, authorities said.
"The company had received an email stating that there was a bomb hidden in the building. The email further stated that the company was to send $20,000 to a bitcoin account by the end of the business day in order to stop the alleged threat," police wrote in a statement.
South Elgin police said they became aware of "other area business communities receiving the same type of threat."
"It was learned that this incident is believed to be a phishing scam to many businesses throughout Kane County and the state of Illinois," the statement read. "Companies are encouraged to be aware of this type of incident and are encouraged to take due caution when dealing with this type of threat. Companies are further advised to contact their local police department for questions."
Similarly, in DuPage County, Sheriff James Mendrick said a local business received an email that "demanded funds be sent electronically or an explosive device will be detonated in the business."
"Any business or resident is asked to contact our office or their local law enforcement agency if they receive an email of this nature. At this time there have been no substantiated threats," Mendrick said in a statement.
Chicago police said at 12:16 p.m. an employee at a building in the 300 block of Wacker Drive received an email about a bomb threat.
"Threats in Chicago are part of a similar pattern being made nationwide," Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted. "#ChicagoPolice are working with federal partners on the investigation, and at this time there is no elevated threat level for the city of Chicago."
Aurora police confirmed they responded to three calls for bomb threats within 30 minutes at various locations including at Rush Copley Medical Center and City Hall.
"We believe these to be part of a nationwide series of bomb threats that appear to be part of an extortion/phishing scam. The bomb threats were all received by email and demanded money to be paid in Bitcoins," police said in a statement. "No bombs were found at any of the facilities and there were no injuries."
The hospital tweeted just before 1:45 p.m. that it was open and patient care "has not been compromised."
"While the threat has not been substantiated, appropriate safety measures have been implemented," the hospital wrote.
Nearby, Aurora City Hall was evacuated due to "multiple bomb threats across town," according to the Aurora Beacon News. The building was later cleared and employees were allowed to re-enter, according to the publication.
Oswego police said they were dispatched to a local business "for a bomb threat received via email."
"Through further investigation it was learned that this same email has been sent to numerous businesses and institutions across the country. If you receive this email you should follow your organizations procedures," the village said in a statement.
Across the country, there were reports of bomb threats in numerous states including Florida, New Jersey, Iowa, New York, Oklahoma and Massachusetts.
An NBC affiliate station in Indiana, WNDU, was forced to evacuate due to a threat.
"Thank you so much to all of the first responders who searched our building and made sure that it was safe for us to return," the station tweeted.
The FBI said it was "aware of recent bomb threats made in cities around the country, and we remain in touch with our law enforcement partners 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," the statement read.
Check back for more on this developing story.