A fax sent by Bank of America’s corporate office to its Ashland, Mass., branch last week was garbled in transmission. When it came out the other end, a bank employee saw clip art of a hand lighting a match to a bomb and called police. You can guess what happened next.
The fax, meant as an internal marketing document, prompted a bomb scare resulting in the bank and a dozen nearby businesses being evacuated for over two hours.
The bank manager called in a bomb scare around 10 a.m., according to bank spokesman Ernesto Anguilla. Police showed up and evacuated 15 neighboring businesses and a day care center.
Yep, those lunatics did it again. There must be something in the water down in Massachusetts.
“The women at the bank should have handled it a little better,” said Nick Markos, owner of Townhouse Pizza and Roast Beef, who estimated that he had lost $1,000 to $1,200 because of the lunch-hour evacuation. “She blew it all out of proportion, and all of us business owners had to pay for it.”
Bank security personnel later determined that a fax machine at the corporate office left off the text alerting employees to Small Business Commitment Week in June, including the words, “The Countdown Begins,” above the bomb.
“It was not a communication that was ever meant to be distributed to customers or anyone externally, and the fax machine malfunctioned, so when it came out of the fax machine, it looked suspicious,” Bank of America spokesman Ernesto Anguilla said. — Boston Globe
While other branches in the greater Boston area, as well as in New York and New Jersey, also received the same garbled fax, none of them had quite the same police response as in Ashland, where state police say a suspicious package showed up at about the same time. The package, opened by the state police bomb squad, contained bank documents.
And to add insult to injury, Ashland town officials, apparently smelling easy money, are talking about going after Bank of America for cash reimbursement for the overblown police response. So far, the company hasn’t said whether it would pay up.
“All dangerous criminals fax clip art to their targets beforehand,” says Kerry Howley, associate editor of Reason magazine. “And rob banks wearing black and white stripes, dragging off wads of money in dollar-stamped bags.”
In January, Boston suffered a bomb scare prompted by city officials overreacting to electronic light boards placed around Boston. Those boards were part of a Turner Broadcasting promotion of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force cartoon, for which Turner eventually gave into the city’s demands for reimbursement and paid $2 million for the city’s stupidity.
If anyone didn’t believe that the city was overreacting and being stupid, they proved it a month later, when the city blew up a state-owned traffic counter. No word on whether the city has demanded any money from the Commonwealth.