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'Swatting' - Cops bust teen for 30+ dangerous hoaxes

'Swatting' - Cops bust teen for 30+ dangerous hoaxes
Photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

It seems like things are never dull for cybersecurity investigator and reporter Brian Krebs. 

He was the first person to expose the massive Target hack back in December, discovered the hacker gang targeting senior living facilities, shed light on the 200 million American identities compromised in a credit bureau scam, and that's just a few of the things he has dealt with in the last 6 months.

Here's another one to add to the list.

A 16-year-old teen in Canada decided to target Krebs. First, it was with threatening and harassing messages on Twitter, then the teen decided to try a "swatting" hoax.

But what is swatting? It's where someone calls in a fake threat to the police, like a bomb threat or a hostage situation. The goal of the attack is to get police to arrive at the scene, hopefully wanting to use deadly force.

However, this wasn't the first time Krebs had been targeted with an attack like this and the police weren't falling for it.

"... the call I received came from the police department’s non-emergency number, and they were unsurprised when I told them that the Krebs manor and all of its inhabitants were just fine."

The teen then posted the following on Twitter:


I told this user privately that targeting an investigative reporter maybe wasn’t the brightest idea, and that he was likely to wind up in jail soon. But @ProbablyOnion was on a roll: That same day, he hung out his for-hire sign on Twitter, with the following message: “want someone swatted? Tweet me  their name, address and I’ll make it happen.”

But, like most stubborn teens, @ProbablyOnion wouldn't give up. He didn't realize that Krebs was right: Targeting an investigative reporter maybe wasn’t the brightest idea.

On May 7, @ProbablyOnion tried to get the swat team to visit my home again, and once again without success. “How’s your door?” he tweeted. I replied: “Door’s fine, Curtis. But I’m guessing yours won’t be soon. Nice opsec!”

I was referring to a document that had just been leaked on Pastebin, which identified @ProbablyOnion as a 19-year-old Curtis Gervais from Ontario. @ProbablyOnion laughed it off but didn’t deny the accuracy of the information, except to tweet that the document got his age wrong. A day later, @ProbablyOnion would post his final tweet: “Still awaiting for the horsies to bash down my door,” a taunting reference to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

And they did just that. Curtis Gervais' Twitter page has gone silent and he now faces 60 different charges for making bomb threats, hoax phone calls to emergency responders, and the like.

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