FBI: Hoax Threats Can Lead To Federal Charges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Think before you post -- that's the message the Federal Bureau of Investigation is sending.

What may only take seconds to write can land you behind bars and change your entire life. Sadly, school shootings are happening more often, and hoax threats are not something the FBI takes lightly.

"No, those things are not funny. Whether you really mean them or not. They're not a prank, and they can be criminal," said Matt Espenshade, Assistant Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Espenshade said if you are charged with making a hoax threat, you could spend five to 20 years in a federal prison, depending on the situation.

"It's taking up a lot of resources on the FBI's behalf and local and state law enforcement," said Espenshade.

But what should you do if you see someone posting something unusual on social media?

"Talk to them, and if you think it rises to the level where the FBI or law enforcement should get involved, if you see something you should say something," said Espenshade.

The FBI is hoping people heed their warning and think before they post.

"If you are doing what you think is a prank, be aware of the consequences," said Espenshade.

This is part of a public awareness campaign that's happening across the country.

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