How Email to Case Premium matches inbound emails to existing cases using the Case Thread ID (aka Ref ID)
Like Email to Case (standard), Email to Case Premium uses the standard Salesforce Case Thread ID to match inbound emails to existing cases. The Case Thread ID (ex: ref:_00Dxxxxx._500yyyyyyy:ref) is a minified combination of the Salesforce Organization ID and the Case Record ID.
Email to Case Premium locates the Case Thread ID by retrieving the last instance of text matching the Thread ID format with a matching Organization ID from the inbound's emails Subject, Text Body, and HTML body. It will then query for cases matching those results. If a case is found matching the thread id in the subject then that case is selected. Otherwise, a new case will be created.
Email to Case Premium locates the Case Thread ID by searching fields on the inbound email in the following order.
Email to Case Premium (E2CP) will scan the entire email and extract the last instance of a string bounded by ref: and :ref from email subject, text body, and html body. Then E2CP will expand the thread id matches into case ids and search for cases with those ids.