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Canuck cops cuff teen suspect in swatter-for-hire case
No mounties involved
A 16-year-old Canadian teen has been arrested for allegedly placing up to 30 fraudulent "swatting" emergency calls that sent armed cops to would-be hostage and bomb threats at schools across North America.
The teen is suspected of placing some of the calls as part of a swatting-for-hire business. Police say they were were sent on dangerous and expensive callouts to what they suspect to be nominated victims of a "swatting business'" customers.
The term "swatting" refers to successfully summoning the police's Special Weapons And Tactics Team (SWAT) teams under false pretext. A successful swatting episode is estimated to cost $10,000. Swatters often make use of caller ID spoofing and emergency service numbers designed for deaf users.
Ottawa Police arrested the teen on May 8 after he placed calls to police claiming schools across the country were under threat from a shooter, bombs and hostage-takers.
Police seized "data transmission devices" along with guns and ammunition.
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The FBI, which collaborated on the investigation, said swatting caused significant distress and physical injury to police.
"The suspect has been linked to threats received by schools in multiple American cities that prompted responses by law enforcement ... the nature of the false threats received by the schools varied," the agency claimed.
Security blogger Brian Krebs named a suspect and pointed to a Twitter profile dated back to November last year that included more than 100 references to swatting and offers to phone-in attacks for a price.
The last tweet on the account claimed the account-holder, who claimed to be the "hacker" was "still awaiting for the horsies to bash down my door".
Swatting was a popular harassment tool and has been used against celebrities including Justin Bieber, Aston Kutcher and Tom Cruise.
Many perpetrators, which Krebs said tended to be males of minor age, have been arrested receiving at times lengthy gaol sentences.
In October, a US man was sentenced to 30 months for phoning in a series of swatting calls to targets across the US.
Perhaps the most infamous swatter was Matthew Weigman, a legally blind hacker who was serving an 11-year sentence issued in June 2009. He made some 60 swatting calls prior to his indictment and had harrassed Verizon employees and investigators who were building evidence against him. ®