A thirteen-year-old Camarillo, Calif. boy was arrested on March 17 for allegedly making multiple calls to police departments in Ventura County, Calif., and New Jersey in an attempt to "swat" three different targets. According to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the teen (whose name was not released because he is a minor) allegedly made three calls reporting violent crimes in progress between January 15 and 20.
Normally when we report on a robbery at a GameStop or other electronics retailers, the perpetrators manage to escape into the night with their ill-gotten goods, never to be seen again or apprehended by police. But this San Jose Mercury News report details how Palo Alto police finally caught up with two men who allegedly robbed a Fry's Electronics of several consoles at gunpoint on Jan. 28.
A 27-year-old from Manchester, New Hampshire says he was targeted by someone online after police were sent to his home last Sunday night. Leighton Timmins, a 27-year-old who works in the IT department of a local college, says that police received a call purporting to be him and claiming that he had shot and killed his father in his apartment.
Of course he never called the police and his father was not in the residence (and quite alive somewhere else) when police entered his residence on Sunday evening.
Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-Mass) is calling on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice to do a better job of handling cases of online harassment - particularly those that target women. Clark took a particular interest in GamerGate and activities that have been associated with the Twitter hashtag because Boston-based developer Brianna Wu is in the district she represents.
It's Just A Harmless Prank...
Some might describe swatting, the act of making an erroneous phone call to a police department in the hopes that they will deploy a SWAT team to a specific location, as an innocuous prank. The "royal they" of the Internet note that, besides the target's pride being hurt and being mildly humiliated, swatting is harmless and funny.
It seems like some police departments are starting to understand what "swatting" is. On the night of March 6, Plymouth, Massachusetts police received a call about an undisclosed act of violence occurring at a home on Carol Boulevard in West Plymouth. Apparently familiar with other instances of fake calls, Plymouth police first dispatched a unit to confirm its suspicions that the call was fake. Checking the residence they quickly confirmed that there was nothing going on at the home.
A couple from South Yorkshire, England are currently on trial for their part in giving their infant son brain damage. According to a report in The Star, the couple (who are not named) played a newly launched "Call of Duty" video game while their four-month-old son lay in his crib with a severe brain injury, according to what the court was told by prosecutors at the couple's ongoing trial.
St. Cloud, Minnesota resident Joshua Peters was swatted while running a RuneScape stream on Twitch, according to an ABC News report. Peters, a U.S. Air Force veteran was playing the browser-based MMORPG on Wednesday when he fell victim to an apparent "swatting" prank. St. Cloud Chief of Police William Anderson confirmed the incident to ABC News and said that it was currently under investigation.
A series of tweets this morning from the official Twitter account for the UK law enforcement agency South East Regional Organized Crime Unit reveals that an unnamed 18-year-old has been arrested in South Port, England for his alleged part in the Christmas day dedicated denial of service (DDoS) attacks that took both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live offline.
Europol has seized 292 web domains that were being used to sell counterfeit and pirated goods, according to the BBC. These domains were allegedly being used to sell fake versions of luxury goods such as sportswear, electronics, movies, video games, pharmaceutical drugs, music, and more. Anyone visiting those sites will now see an "educational" message on copyright crime.
Twenty-year-old Boston man Shane Coffey has been sentenced in the UK for attempting to kill his online girlfriend and her brother in their Hook Road, Epsom, Surrey home on April 18. Coffey met 19-year-old Farha Dowlut in the online MMORPG Runescape when she was 13-years-old. They became close friends and later began dating online. Over the years they spent time gaming and chatting online. Dowlut eventually broke off the relationship because she feared that her Muslim family would not approve (because Coffey was not a Muslim).
According to news station KOMO, a Bungie executive found himself in the crosshairs of police in the early hours of November 6. A call (which later turned out be an attempt at "swatting" the Bungie executive) to Sammamish, Washington Police Department from an armed gunman claiming to have taken the residents of the Bungie executive's home hostage and demanding a ransom sent law enforcement into action.
Another co-founder of Swedish file-sharing site The Pirate Bay has been arrested. Hans Fredrik Lennart Neij, known by his hacker name TiAMO, was detained in the north-eastern town of Nong Khai while trying to cross into Thailand from Laos, according to what local police tell BBC.
Jefferson Parish (the greater New Orleans, Louisiana) authorities are searching for two men who held a Woodmere resident at gunpoint and stole that person's debit and credit cards. The two young men (pictured, left) were later captured on surveillance cameras trying to buy games at a local video game store, according to authorities.
Testimony in the trial of a 19-year-old from Melbourne, Australia man who stabbed a homeless person to death in January after an altercation, seems to be trying to create the defense that Call of Duty had a strong influence on the defendant's state of mind. Easton George Woodhead is facing a murder charge for repeatedly stabbing Morgan Wayne "Mousey" Perry at an encampment of homeless people living on the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River.
A 20-year-old who was charged with lying to investigators (obstruction of justice) about his supporting role in the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, tried to defend his actions by saying he "was too high" to remember, according to MSN.
According to the Miami Herald Tribune's On Tap in The Capital political column, the "Xbox murders" case is being heard by the Florida Supreme Court today. The Florida Supreme Court will hear appeal arguments in the case of Jerone Hunter, one of the four men convicted of brutally murdering six people in a Deltona, Florida home in 2004.
Back in August SNK Playmore filed a criminal complaint against Square Enix, alleging that the company had engaged in "criminal copyright infringement" by using over 100 instances of unauthorized depictions of SNK Playmore characters in its Hi Score Girl manga.
This also led to the Consumer and Economic Crime Division of the Osaka, Japan Police raiding the local offices of Square-Enix to gather evidence.
On October 3rd Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford sent out a series of tweets - with photos - showing that someone called in a bomb threat to the company's headquarters in Dallas, Texas. While the call turned out to be a hoax, the Dallas police made sure that the areas was clear and safe before letting employees get back into the building or to their nearby vehicles.
The police department has not released details on where the call might have emanated from.
Below are Pitchford's tweets:
The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that four people have been indicted for allegedly breaching the computer systems of several video game companies and the US military, and stealing software worth over $100 million.
One transaction gone horribly wrong leads to four people having their lives ruined - with one of those lives coming to a tragic end over a video game system. That's what happened in Roswell, Georgia when two people who answered a Craigslist ad looking to sell a PlayStation 4. The owner of the PS4, 28-year-old Daniel John Zeitz put an ad on Craigslist looking to sell it.
Wesley "wolvereness" Wolfe is the latest to become victimized by a swatting prank. According to Chron, the 25-year-old programmer best known for Craftbukkit for Minecraft, was the victim of someone sending a swat team to his house, claiming that he had shot and killed his parents and was going to kill more people.
It looks like 4chan, a place that some might call the filthiest corner of the Internet, is putting a DMCA policy in place. According to this TorrentFreak article, the new policy was put in place in the wake of hundreds of nude celebrity photos being leaked online after being stolen from Apple's cloud service. Some insist that those photos first started showing up on 4chan.
Last night a founding member of the popular YouTube channel The Creatures was the victim of swatting, and the entire incident was caught on his live stream. Jordan "Kootra" Mathewson was playing Counter-Strike on a live-stream when a SWAT team showed up and took him to the floor of his office at gunpoint.
"Uh oh, this isn't good," Kootra said during the live stream. "They're clearing rooms - what in the world? I think we're getting swatted."
In July we reported on MineORama, a Minecraft fan gathering in New York City that was canceled at the last minute. While organizers insisted that the event was not a scam and that it would be rescheduled, organizers are showing their true colors by shutting down their Twitter account and their official website at www.mineorama.com. And while their Facebook page is still live, organizers have not made an update since early July.