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Fake threats, real consequences: FBI warns people against hoax school threats

SALT LAKE CITY – Even if it’s meant as a joke, the FBI isn’t laughing.

The bureau is launching a new campaign aimed at tracking down people who are making false threats against schools.  They say a small action can lead to a lifetime of consequences.

The bureau’s new campaign, “Think Before You Post” is a response to a troubling trend that happens after all school shootings.

“Following each one of these tragic events, there’s a rash of hoax threats,” according to Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dan Brady.

The PSA shows the story of one man, who admits he posted an online threat to his college when he “wanted to vent.” The man says, “The university got shut down.  I got arrested by the FBI, and now, I don’t know what my future looks like.”

Brady says some people post hoax threats as a joke.  Others want attention.  Others want to scare their community.  However, there is a possibility that a fake threat could lead to something much more serious.

“It can be a first step to some violent action.  It could be a violent thought that they act out by way of a hoax that could later become a violent action,” Brady says.

The possible sentence for a hoax threat can be a stiff one.  Brady says it could add up to five years behind bars, and that’s just for making the threat.

“They don’t intend for anybody to get hurt, but, sometimes, people do get hurt.  If there is an injury as result of a hoax threat, the penalties can range above five years and even up to 20 years,” he says.