A teenager has been arrested in connection with a series of bomb threats that were sentto thousands of schoolsacross Britain and the US in a malicious hoax.
Emailspurporting to be from a US-based gaming networkthat allows users to compete in the Minecraft game,sparked mass evacuations and school closures in March.
Written in both English and Arabic, they claimed a bomb would be detonated on school grounds within three hours unlessa $5,000 (3,700) ransom was paid.
Police surrounded some schools and searched students bags as a result.
Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said an unnamed 18-year-old suspect had been arrested on suspicion of making threats to kill, blackmail and malicious communications.
He was detained at his family home in Hampshire, becoming the third suspect arrested in relation to the hoax.
Hertfordshire Police and the NCA arrested another 18-year-old man in Watford on 21 March, two days after the original threat. He remains under bail conditionswhich restricthis internet use.
Another 18-year-old man from Abbots Langley in Hertfordshire was arrested on 28 March on suspicion of malicious communications.
The three suspectsare believed to be part of the same group, said NCA senior investigating officer Marc Horsfall, adding: Other members and anyone thinking of joining them should bear that in mind.
The emails appeared to come from VeltPVP, a server that allows users to compete in the Minecraft game worldwide.
The company said its domain had been spoofed by a group of gamers in a bid to damage its reputation.
We have nothing to do with the bomb threats that were sent out to the 400+ UK schools, it said in a statementearlier this year.We’ve been being harassed by a group of cyber criminals that are trying to harass us in any way possible.
We’re extremely sorry for anyone who had to deal with this, but just know it’s fake.
Schools were evacuated in cities including London, Birmingham, Bristol and across the UK as a result of the messages, which led toa deluge of calls to police.
The series of bomb threats caused huge worry and inconvenience to thousands of innocent people, Mr Horsfall said.Anyone thinking that law enforcement doesnt take such offences very seriously should really think again.
Our investigation demonstrates we will do everything we can to find out whos behind the attacks and arrest them as soon as possible.Many cyber offenders believe theyre well hidden behind their computer screens.
But this arrest shows, we will identify you and come for you.