The fax from a marketing group about a Bank of America small business promotion contained images of a lighted match and a bomb with a fuse, bank spokesman Ernesto Anguilla said. But words explaining the promotion did not transmit.
"The fax machine malfunctioned, so a partial image came through that looked somewhat suspicious," Anguilla said.
The missing text included the phrases "The countdown begins" and "Small business commitment week June 4-8," according to a copy circulated by police.
"It was an internal communication designed only for our employees," Anguilla said. The fax was sent to the bank's branches in parts of New England as well as New York and New Jersey. The bank's Ashland branch manager called police Wednesday morning.
Fears also arose because the branch received a suspicious package delivered by a customer around the same time, police said. A State Police bomb squad searched the bank branch and checked out the package, which was a delivery of documents.
About 15 small businesses in a shopping plaza were evacuated for about three hours, including a day care center with about 30 children, Police Chief Scott Rohmer said.