Jack of all dark trades: Swatter, botnet herder, hacker pleads guilty

The teenage hacker known as "Dshocker," pled guilty this week to computer intrusion, interstate threats, and wire fraud, stemming from nefarious hacking, botnet and swatting actions. Since he is a juvenile, he was not publicly named unfortunately.

The FBI in February singled out swatting saying that there has been a significant increase in the illegal activity where criminals and pranksters call in a fake 911 in hopes of drawing a response from law enforcement-usually a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT)  team.   The US Department of Justice says swatters also make other false reports to elicit an emergency response by other first responders, such as adult protective services, to a specific physical address. In addition, swatters typically spoof   phone numbers to conceal their identity.  

Swatters often tell tales of hostages about to be executed or in this case, bombs about to go off. The community is placed in danger as responders rush to the scene, taking them away from real emergencies. And the officers are placed in danger as unsuspecting residents may try to defend themselves, the FBI said.

But Dshocker was more than a swatter.  At the hearing, the prosecutor told the US District Court that had the case proceeded to trial, the government would have proven that, from 2005-2008, Dshocker hacked into multiple corporate computer systems Charter Communications, Comcast and Road Runner, and took command of thousands of other computers in a botnet directing them to perform cyberattacks on victim computer servers; and made fraudulent credit card purchases with stolen credit cards, the DOJ stated.

While the defendant plead guilty , a plea agreement will send the swatter to a juvenile detention facility for 11-months.  Had he been tried as an adult, he would have faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution, the DOJ said.

The FBI noted that another that a Washington state teenager was this year sentenced to three years in a California prison for swatting. In that case the swatter used his PC to access Orange County, California's 911 emergency response system and convinced the sheriff's department into storming a couple's home with a heavily armed SWAT team.

The DOJ prosecuted a swatter last fall it said involved a swatting conspiracy that involved more than 100 victims, up to $250,000 in losses, and disruption of services for telecommunications providers and emergency responders.  

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