Earlier today, news outlets began reporting that schools and colleges across the UK were being closed following a spate of email bomb threats. It now appears that today's activities may have been a result of a feud between between Minecraft players.
Over 24,000 bomb threats were sent to more than 400 primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges across the UK, resulting in numerous evacuations. The emails read, "We have sent in a student with a bomb. The bomb is set to go off in 3 hours times, if you do not send $5,000 USD to [veltpvpcom]".
VeltPvP is a US-based company that operates Minecraft servers, and the emails were apparently intended to result in the suspension of its domain.
"We've been being harassed by a group of cybercriminals that are trying to harass us in any way possible," VeltPvP explained in a statement on Twitter, "We're extremely sorry for anyone who had to deal with this, but just know it's fake."
Police forces around the country, including those in North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, all confirmed that the emails were being treated as a hoax. Northumbria police said that, "Detectives have looked into the emails - which appear to originate from the US - and can confirm that there is no viable threat. Schools have been visited by police to reassure them that the incident is being treated as a hoax and address any concerns".
In its report on the day's events, Sky News claims to have been in contact with some of the perpetrators of the hoax. "[It's] horrible, it's not the nicest thing", one of the people responsible said of their actions, "[but] what that network has done is horrible." VeltPvP, they claim, has initiated DDoS attacks against a number of other Minecraft servers.
Carson Kallen, Velt LLC's chief executive, denied the allegations, telling Sky that today's events are part of an ongoing campaign against the company, and that he "had been the victim of so many swatting attacks he now knows the officers at his local police station".
Another one of the alleged hoaxers told Sky that he "Mentally, kind of" felt remorse for sending over 24,000 bomb threats to schools. "That's human nature - but within the community, you have to become very thick skinned or you'll get exploited."
"I'm not going to lose sleep over it", they said.