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Harvard student tried to dodge exam with bomb hoax, FBI says

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A Harvard student was charged Tuesday with making a hoax bomb threat just so he could get out of a final exam.

Eldo Kim, 20, of Cambridge, Mass., was scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in U.S. District Court. He could face as long as five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine if convicted of communicating the bomb threat that cleared four large buildings Monday.

In an affidavit filed included with the criminal complaint, the FBI said Kim admitted sending the bogus threats out of "a desire to avoid a final exam." The exam he was trying to duck wasn't specified.

The affidavit said Kim emailed bomb threats to several Harvard offices, including the campus police and the student newspaper, about 8:30 a.m. ET Monday. He said he acted alone and picked the addresses at random from the university's website, according to the affidavit.

Under a subject line reading "bombs placed around campus," the messages read: "shrapnel bombs placed in science center, sever hall, emerson hall, thayer hall, 2/4. guess correctly. be quick for they will go off soon," according to the complaint.

He said he chose the word "shrapnel" because "it sounded more dangerous" and wrote "2/4. guess correctly" to slow the evacuation, according to the affidavit.

"Kim was scheduled to take a final exam in Emerson Hall, a building on the Harvard campus, at 9:00 a.m. on December 16, 2013. Kim stated that he was in Emerson Hall at 9:00 a.m. when the fire alarm sounded and the building was evacuated," it said, adding: 

"According to Kim, upon hearing the alarm, he knew that his plan had worked."

Each of the buildings was evacuated, and investigators found no explosives, but all morning exams were postponed. Because the four buildings are clustered together near Harvard Yard, the historic center of campus was closed.

Kim took several steps to hide his identity, but in the end, it was the WiFi that got him, the FBI said.

Kim said he sent his messages using a temporary, anonymous email account routed through the worldwide anonymizing network Tor, according to the affidavit.

So far, so good. But to get to Tor, he had to go through Harvard's wireless network — and university technicians were able to detect that it was Kim who was trying to get to Tor, according to the affidavit.