Technology

Teen Arrested For Swatting Faces 60 Charges Across U.S., Canada

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A 16-year-old Canadian boy is facing 60 criminal charges for using his Twitter account to report fake emergencies and bomb threats, essentially sending SWAT teams to the homes of his enemies.

The boy, who is from Ottawa, was arrested on Thursday after a 2-month investigation into fake calls from as far away as California. The teen, who operated under the Twitter handle @ProbablyOnion2, was charged Friday with at least 30 fake emergency swatting calls across the U.S. and Canada.

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"Put in your swat requests now," the boy tweeted as recently as Wednesday.

Washington, D.C.-based reporter Brian Krebs, who blogs at Krebs On Security, says he was a target of the teen just because he ignored him on Twitter. After Krebs blocked the user from sending him “annoying” messages, he received a call from police on April 10 telling him a hostage situation had been reported at his home.

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The teen taunted police online and claimed he was making money off the hoaxes by taking bitcoin donations.

Krebs said swatters don’t think about the implications of their actions – both the massive waste of time and taxpayer money and the danger of sending out law enforcement with the expectation that deadly force may be necessary.

"[They] don't have a sense of the value of anything, these individuals have no parental supervision... [they are] able to do what they want on the internet," Krebs said.

Data transmission devices and communications equipment were seized from the suspect's home. Authorities also found multiple firearms and ammunition that were seized in the interest of public safety.

He was charged with public mischief, mischief to property, uttering death threats and conveying false information with intent to alarm Friday. Investigators say more charges are pending.

He is scheduled to appear in court May 27.

Sources: Ottawa Citizen, Krebs On Security, Globe and Mail, CBC News