Read the Bills Act Coalition

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chase bank branches receive 30 letters laced with powder

From Yahoo News and the AP:

More than 30 letters containing a suspicious powder were mailed to Chase bank branches and federal banking regulators' offices in nine cities, authorities said Tuesday in what was being investigated as a first, if extreme, public backlash over the nation's financial crisis...Initial tests on the powder proved negative for poisonous or otherwise dangerous toxins, the FBI said. An FBI spokesman in Oklahoma, where eight letters turned up, said local preliminary assessments showed the powder was harmless calcium....Additional tests were being run on the letters Tuesday as officials zeroed in on possible suspects near Amarillo, Texas, where the letters were postmarked...."Most of these letters contain a powder substance with a threatening communication," the FBI said in a statement...."Even sending a hoax letter is a serious crime," the FBI said....A law enforcement official said the letters were mailed to Chase bank branches in or near Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Denver, Newark, N.J., New York City, Oklahoma City and Washington. They all appear to be from the same source and began showing up at the banks on Monday, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly....A second law enforcement official, also speaking anonymously under the same conditions, said authorities were looking into whether the letters were sent in anger due to the cratering economy. Authorities would not release the text of the letters, but Gary Johnson, a spokesman at the FBI field office in Oklahoma City, said the threat was "based on past actions of the bank" and that the letters implied that the opener was going to die...U.S. Postal inspector JoJan Henderson confirmed that the letters appeared to be related. The U.S. Postal Service and state and local officials also were investigating....The letters were sent against a backdrop of eroding trust in U.S. financial institutions. The country is battling its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, where borrowing money has become much more difficult and a lot more expensive for consumers and businesses. The situation has roiled Wall Street and threatens to plunge the U.S. economy into a deep recession....One of the main goals of Washington policymakers is to restore confidence in the banking and financial system. To do so, the government has announced a flurry of drastic actions in recent weeks. The government is injecting billions into the country's biggest banks in return for partial ownership. It is also guaranteeing new bank debt and has boosted deposit insurance from $100,000 to $250,000....The crisis has left home foreclosures at record highs, has shriveled Americans' nest eggs and has catapulted unemployment....No injuries were reported after any of the letters were opened. Mary Jane Rogers, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan Chase & Co., said some employees, including a pregnant woman, were examined as a precaution

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