Do you open your office mail without giving it a second thought? If so, you may want to get more cautious. That’s because a person nicknamed “the Bishop” sent threatening letters and two pipe bombs in the past two years to several Midwest financial services companies. The bombs only lacked an ignition device.

The Bishop’s bombs came with demands to manipulate stock. The Bishop sent 16 letters to financial institutions threatening harm unless certain stocks moved to a specific price, often $6.66. According to postal authorities, the person sent them to American Century Investments, Janus Capital Group, and Perkins, Wolf, McDonnell & Company, a Chicago brokerage firm.

Packages bore the same Streamwood, Ill., return address and were postmarked from Rolling Meadows, Ill. On April 25, federal authorities charged John P. Tompkins of Dubuque, Iowa, of sending the threatening letters and pipe bombs to financial services companies in an effort to drive up certain stock prices for his own gain.

In light of the bomber’s focus on the financial services industry, advisors may want to get more vigilant while opening their mail. Watch for items:

  • Lacking a return address
  • Having restrictive marketing
  • Having misspelled words
  • Addressed to a title only
  • Bearing an incorrect title
  • Having poorly typed or written addresses
  • Showing oily stains, discolorations, or crystallization on the wrapper
  • Having a strange odor
  • Sealed with too much tape
  • Packaged in lopsided or uneven containers

If you receive such a package or letter, isolate it and contact local authorities immediately.