As first reported by Sky News, a rivalry between Minecraft players lies behind 24,000 threatening emails sent to schools and colleges across the UK. The emails claimed that a student with a bomb had been sent into the recipient's school and that, if a payment is not made, the device will be blown up. The email repeats the English text in Arabic afterwards.
The message led to many schools being on alert and some evacuating, with parents having to collect their children and local police assisting. In Hertfordshire, seven schools received threats with one evacuating. The Hull Daily Mail says over 20 schools acrioss Hull and North Lincolnshire were affected. The Westmorland Gazette reports several schools receiving the threats in Cumbria, while the Bristol Post says five schools received the threats and at some pupils had to be searched.
Police, as quoted by Sky, say they do not believe there are any "viable threats."
As can also be seen above, the emails show an association with VeltPvP, a popular Minecraft PVP server company. Sky reports that the emails were designed to result in VeltPvP getting into trouble, and that it has been able to contact one of those responsible for sending the hoax emails.
Asked whether he regretted frightening children whose schools were evacuated, the hoaxer replied: "It is horrible, it's not the nicest thing."
He added that the reaction from schools showed failures on their part and that he understands there is a chance he will be arrested.
Humberside Police said 400 schools were affected across the country.
Detective Superintendent Tony wienererill said: "We have spoken to all schools who have contacted us, reassured them that there is no need to evacuate and offered them security advice."
Assistant Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine of Greater Manchester Police said: "I want to reiterate that there is not believed to be any direct threat following these reports which at this stage are believed to be malicious hoax communications."
It seems that the individual involved in the hoax who spoke to Sky doesn't realise the gravity of making bomb threats against schools. This is no longer a Minecraft rivalry, but a question of public safety and schools. The story has shades of last year's incredible revelation that the Mirai botnet, which brought down the internet in parts of the world, had began as a way of taking down Minecraft servers.
VeltPvP made the following statement: "We have nothing to do with the bomb threats that were sent out to the 400+ UK schools. We've been being harassed by a group of cyber criminals that are trying to harass us in anyway possible. We're extremely sorry for anyone who had to deal with this, but just know it's fake."