Mailing a white powdery substance to scare people can land one in prison — even if the enclosed substance is non-toxic. Police and the FBI have responded to at least a dozen “white powder” cases in Boise, Idaho since 2003, with the most recent occurring at the U.S. attorney’s office June 14. Neither Boise police nor the FBI could say last week how many arrests have been made in connection with these crimes, though they did confirm there had been no arrests in the past two years. There have been some hoax case convictions this year in other parts of the country. Reports nationwide tapered off significantly after 2002 and have been dropping every month — until the past few months, an FBI spokesman in Washington, DC said. There were about 500 reports in 2008. Investigators have found there is a flurry of these cases after “key events,” such as the blackout in the Northeast, the Enron scandal and Hurricane Katrina. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could be another key event. Typical targets include elected officials, government organizations and the media. Law enforcement officials treat every case as a serious threat. The hoaxes sap local and federal law enforcement, diverting them from investigations and other real emergencies.