Eldo Kim, of Cambridge, was charged in a federal complaint filed on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. He allegedly told investigators that he did it to avoid a final exam.
At about 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Kim allegedly emailed several messages to the Harvard University Police Department, to officials at Harvard University and to the president of The Harvard Crimson with the subject line "bombs placed around campus."
According to a federal complaint, 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."
The messages prompted a campus alert to go out just after 9 a.m. alerting people to evacuate those four buildings because of an "unconfirmed report" of explosives on campus. The messages also prompted a massive response that included local, state and federal agencies. It took hours to clear the buildings and many final exams were canceled. There were no devices found.
Authorities said that they learned through their investigation that Kim allegedly sent the e-mails through an application that creates temporary and anonymous e-mail addresses for free. They also allege that Kim accessed the application through a program that assigns an anonymous Internet Protocol address to a computer.
Harvard University was able to determine that Kim accessed the applications using the university's wireless network, according to the complaint.
During an interview with investigators, Kim allegedly admitted to sending the messages so that he could avoid taking a final exam.
"According to Kim, he was motivated by a desire to avoid a final exam scheduled to be held on December 16, 2013," FBI Special Agent Thomas Dalton wrote in the complaint.
Kim was in one of the halls when the fire alarm went off and knew his plan worked, authorities said.
Kim faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.