Alleged swatting prankster “Famed God” arrested in Las Vegas
February 8, 2015 10:01 AM   Subscribe

A 19-year-old Las Vegas teen is expected to appear in court Monday, days after being arrested in connection to a July swatting incident in suburban Illinois. Brandon Wilson, who goes by the online handle "Famed God," was arrested Thursday in Nevada and faces an extradition hearing to determine whether he should be sent to face hacking and other charges.

The Chicago-Sun Times said that, in addition to the Naperville incident, the suspect's computers held evidence "of similar incidents across the country."
posted by thegears (114 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wikipedia: Swatting.
Swatting is the act of tricking an emergency service (via such means as hoaxing a 9-1-1 dispatcher) into dispatching an emergency response based on the false report of an ongoing critical incident.
i.e. calling SWAT on someone.

('cause I didn't know.)
posted by benito.strauss at 10:12 AM on February 8, 2015 [20 favorites]


Please try as an adult.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:12 AM on February 8, 2015 [27 favorites]


('cause I didn't know.)

It would be great to return to it being a thing people don't need to know about.
posted by Artw at 10:14 AM on February 8, 2015 [19 favorites]


That's good to hear, a lot of the most horrible things I've heard about the internet over the last few months seem like legally actionable bad things that you never hear about anyone getting busted for. I'm glad to hear there are consequences for SWATing and trying to literally get someone killed as a joke/revenge.
posted by mathowie at 10:14 AM on February 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


Thematically related (& linked within the article): Gamer gets swatted while streaming before thousands of viewers
posted by Going To Maine at 10:15 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here's hoping he rolls on all his little buddies too.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on February 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


he's 19, so yeah - as an adult. fascinating to see multiple places describe him as a "teen" who "pulled pranks" - which seems like some pretty extreme minimization (especially compared to how the victims of crimes who aren't white dudes are reported about).
posted by nadawi at 10:16 AM on February 8, 2015 [104 favorites]


I had no idea. Brandon needs to be treated the same as an arsonist.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:21 AM on February 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just don't understand how disconnected from reality one must be to think swatting is a funny prank.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:22 AM on February 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


I just don't understand how disconnected from reality one must be to think swatting is a funny prank.

This jerkoff calls himself "Famed God." There's your answer.
posted by jonmc at 10:23 AM on February 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Where is your Famed God now?
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:23 AM on February 8, 2015 [34 favorites]


"Famed"? Not "Based"?
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:25 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


AFAIK they haven't racked up a death yet - but with police getting ever twitchier that's going to happen eventually. And if it happens to someone black you know it's going to be John Crawford all over again.
posted by Artw at 10:25 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


GamerGate tried to swat a game developer here in Portland, at an address that hadn't been hers for a while.

Luckily the police here have the sensible policy of not doing no-knock swat raids based on anonymous tips. The police have some responsibility in the intensity of their response, alongside the obvious responsibility of the people putting in the calls.
posted by idiopath at 10:27 AM on February 8, 2015 [29 favorites]


these jerkoffs don't think it's a funny prank - they know it's a form of threats/violence/terrorism. it's the same as calling lighting queer kids on fire a prank - it's a statement of what society deems important, not a statement of intent.
posted by nadawi at 10:27 AM on February 8, 2015 [71 favorites]


('cause I didn't know.)

It would be great to return to it being a thing people don't need to know about.


One sign of getting old is the increasing likelihood you get confronted with I Didn't Know That Was a Thing.
posted by jonp72 at 10:28 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Should be noted that this also wouldn't be a thing if the Police were a little less eager to use their SWAT teams to begin with. The idea that a SWAT team could be deployed without the situation first being asessed and verified by an Officer on the ground is frightening.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:29 AM on February 8, 2015 [88 favorites]


*thinks*

"...don't make assumptions about his appearance don't make assumptions about his appearance don't make assumptions about his appearance..."


*clicks on article*

"Oh, God dammit."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:32 AM on February 8, 2015 [67 favorites]


Should be noted that this also wouldn't be a thing if the Police were a little less eager to use their SWAT teams to begin with.

Gotta justify the budget and use all the Iraq surplus gear somehow, and not everyone is lucky enough to have riots.
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on February 8, 2015 [17 favorites]


Should be noted that this also wouldn't be a thing if the Police were a little less eager to use their SWAT teams to begin with.

Gotta justify the budget and use all the Iraq surplus gear somehow, and not everyone is lucky enough to have riots.


For those who haven't been keeping up, that bolded part is quite literally the case -- a lot of the transfer programs that give free surplus gear to police departments contain a clause in the agreement that if the PD doesn't use it within a certain amount of time, they lose it.
posted by Etrigan at 10:40 AM on February 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


Should be noted that this also wouldn't be a thing if the Police were a little less eager to use their SWAT teams to begin with.

To be fair, they make it seem like the 911 call is coming from the victim's house, and I think they sometimes play gunshot sound effects. If you were a 911 operator who got that call, you would probably want to send the cavalry, too. (Not to say that the military surplus gear and general militarization of the police isn't a problem, too. I'm just saying that the calls can be pretty convincing.)
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:43 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Seems like it doesn't even matter what he gets criminally now, this guy's fucked financially. He needs a great lawyer. He can't plead guilty for a lesser sentence, because if he admits doing it, bring on the civil suits from the victims and cost recovery suits from the cops. Same thing if he loses.
posted by ctmf at 10:45 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, let's hope that however this turns out, it forms a deterrent to other would-be swatters.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:45 AM on February 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


fascinating to see multiple places describe him as a "teen" who "pulled pranks"

Nice to see that the Chicago paper referred to him as a man and the only use of the word "prank" in their article was a direct quote.
posted by immlass at 10:47 AM on February 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


A 19-year-old Las Vegas teen

Not to be confused with the 16-yo Canadian kid accused of the "celebrity swattings" around L.A.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:52 AM on February 8, 2015


Thematically related (& linked within the article): Gamer gets swatted while streaming before thousands of viewers

"Audio for potions of this video have been muted as it appears to contain copyrighted content controlled by a third party."

Well, at least we have THAT under control.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:08 AM on February 8, 2015 [20 favorites]


Jesus Christ. He literally has a neckbeard.
posted by Talez at 11:08 AM on February 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Artw: Should be noted that this also wouldn't be a thing if the Police were a little less eager to use their SWAT teams to begin with.

Gotta justify the budget and use all the Iraq surplus gear somehow, and not everyone is lucky enough to have riots.


For whatever it's worth, when they swat people, they usually pretend that there are armed home invaders holding them hostage. It's the sort of situation where an armed police response would actually be justified (if it's the best strategy for dealing with it, I don't know) if the case was actually occurring.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:09 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's the sort of situation where an armed police response would actually be justified

Even then, a SWAT team wouldn't (well...shouldn't) just burst into a home without doing any sort of reconnaissance of the situation first. That's how you get people, as well as cops, killed.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:12 AM on February 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


Good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:17 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thorzdad: Even then, a SWAT team wouldn't (well...shouldn't) just burst into a home without doing any sort of reconnaissance of the situation first. That's how you get people, as well as cops, killed.

Well, it's possible they do; in at least some cases they'll get the recon wrong (or not find sufficient information) and end up rushing the house. But in any case you can't really blame the police for sending the cavalry to what they think is an active hostage/shooter situation. This isn't the same as no-knock drug raids or something.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:17 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


he's 19, so yeah - as an adult. fascinating to see multiple places describe him as a "teen" who "pulled pranks" - which seems like some pretty extreme minimization (especially compared to how the victims of crimes who aren't white dudes are reported about).

This is one of my pet peeves about media reporting at times. If you are a grown adult, you shouldn't be referred to as a teen anymore. I've always understood teen to be a reference to a certain subsection of age progression that is usually about not quite having the rights and privileges yet of an adult. Just because the words 18 and 19 have the word teen in them does not make someone a teenager. I feel like using the word teen for adults goes hand-in-hand with some sort of biased reporting, or trying to create a specific emotional response, but I can't always put my finger on it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:19 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh God. The comment thread from the YouTube in Going to Maine's link...UGH.

I mean, I know I shouldn't be shocked, because YouTube, but holy fuck...ugh.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:20 AM on February 8, 2015


Well, let's hope that however this turns out, it forms a deterrent to other would-be swatters.

I think this is only the second or third time I've seen this lead to an arrest. We're probably going to need to see a bunch of arrests for this sort of shit in order for it to stop. That's going to require a serious investment of time, energy and probably money from law enforcement.

Thing is, though: why wouldn't they? Because even by the most cynical read of law enforcement and their motivations, this is still a matter of people trying to bait cops into overreactions, property damage and eventually someone really is going to get shot. I'm not the cop-hating sort myself, but you'd think that even the worst cops wouldn't take kindly to that sort of manipulation.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:24 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


For whatever it's worth, when they swat people, they usually pretend that there are armed home invaders holding them hostage. It's the sort of situation where an armed police response would actually be justified (if it's the best strategy for dealing with it, I don't know) if the case was actually occurring.

police response is always armed... but, has this SWAT team vs. home invaders scenario ever actually happened?
posted by ennui.bz at 11:32 AM on February 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


scaryblackdeath: “We're probably going to need to see a bunch of arrests for this sort of shit in order for it to stop. ”
I think more importantly, they need to pick a better charge than filing a false police report. Attempted murder springs to mind, because that's the actual intent. It strikes me as depraved indifference.

It should be noted, however, that Wilson was not arrested for alleged swatting. He's been charged with computer tampering, intimidation, and identity theft.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:35 AM on February 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


Attempted murder-by-proxy is what it is. It should be treated as such and punished accordingly.
posted by metagnathous at 11:36 AM on February 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


i feel like using attempted murder (which i agree is the intent) is unlikely to happen because the cops aren't going to admit they're murderers.
posted by nadawi at 11:36 AM on February 8, 2015 [47 favorites]


ob1quixote: "Attempted murder springs to mind, because that's the actual intent. "

That would require DAs to stand up and court and plead the case that someone innocent of wrong doing being shot to death is a foreseeable outcome to cops showing up at their door. Probably an unpopular point of view.
posted by Mitheral at 11:38 AM on February 8, 2015 [28 favorites]


I think more importantly, they need to pick a better charge than filing a false police report. Attempted murder springs to mind, because that's the actual intent. It strikes me as depraved indifference.

It seems like it would be difficult for them to find a more severe charge without simultaneously placing a lot of the blame on the police departments themselves. If it's attempted murder, for example, then the state is admitting that sending the police to your house is tantamount to sending a hitsquad there. Which I think is kind of true, but not something the state is likely to ever agree with.

On preview, what nadawi said.
posted by dis_integration at 11:38 AM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


One sign of getting old is the increasing likelihood you get confronted with I Didn't Know That Was a Thing.

Another related sign of age: I Didn't Know This Was Still A Thing. The last time I heard about swatting is when it happened to the admin of 420chan.

And yeah, if "suicide by cop" is a thing, so should "murder by cop", afaic.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:40 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Since swatting involves impersonating the victim on the phone (usually with software to spoof phone numbers), you could probably get them for various forms of wire fraud and identity theft. And, while I don't think you'd get attempted murder to stick, I think reckless endangerment would be at least worth a try (I think even swat teams would admit that being swatted is dangerous). Heck, pin them with one charge for everyone in the house and one charge for every member of the swat team - they could be shot by the homeowner or each other in the confusion.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:41 AM on February 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


they need to pick a better charge than filing a false police report

Nah, criminally, that's all it is - the cops are the ones making it dangerous. But like I said, even that is enough to fuck this guy over for life. Get an official ruling that he did that, and here come the civil suits.
posted by ctmf at 11:41 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sitting alone in front of your computer encourages exhibitionism and asocial behavior.
posted by Redfield at 11:48 AM on February 8, 2015


You have a firm grasp of the obvious.
posted by jonmc at 11:58 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


We've even had one of these in my small city. It highlights a number of other related or if you will follow-on effects, including danger and disruption to neighbors, costs of rerouting vehicles and transit, delayed response to other emergencies, and so forth. As of about three months later there seem to have been no arrests in the incident. Fortunately in this case the family was not home at the time and there were no injuries to anyone.

Attempted murder is a bit of a stretch as far as proving criminal intent, but I don't think reckless endangerment should really be a hard sell.
posted by dhartung at 12:00 PM on February 8, 2015


ctmf: "Nah, criminally, that's all it is - the cops are the ones making it dangerous. But like I said, even that is enough to fuck this guy over for life. Get an official ruling that he did that, and here come the civil suits."

"The term judgment proof is most commonly used in tort and contract law contexts to refer to defendants or potential defendants who are financially insolvent. Even if a plaintiff were to secure a legal judgment against an insolvent defendant, the defendant's lack of funds would make the satisfaction of that judgment difficult, if not impossible, to secure."

Basically, if Scroty McNeckbeard can't afford the civil suits in the first place, his victims may not bother bringing suit in the first place, as the contingency lawyers won't take the case.
posted by pwnguin at 12:14 PM on February 8, 2015


Reckless endangerment is discussed in the comments (for once, not a horror show), and seems like an appropriate fit. Also these are only Illinois charges; they found evidence of a number of different swatting attacks in several states. There's hope that he'll face additional federal charges for what is reasonably described as attempted murder (by cop for the lulz), not that you'd ever find a DA to charge that.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:19 PM on February 8, 2015


I knew swatting was a thing... but I didn't realize it was so prevalent that people have goddamn youtube compilation vidz of multiple incidents. There's some scary shit here.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:26 PM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reckless endangerment sounds about right. I like the idea of multiple charges and then recoup the costs involved in a SWAT mobilisation.
posted by arcticseal at 12:28 PM on February 8, 2015


has this SWAT team vs. home invaders scenario ever actually happened?

It fits into the pre-planned "active shooter" scenario where doing something, anything by the police is required in order to stop additional violence.

Think Aurora, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, etc.

I imagine the public's hysteria over these incidents and the police's genuine desire to help overshadows the consideration of swatting.
posted by meowzilla at 12:29 PM on February 8, 2015


I can't speak for local or state authorities, but mark my words, the feds will go hardcore on this guy. They will want to make an example of him, and it sounds like he left quite an e-trail of his wrongdoing, thereby making the job of prosecution easy and fun for the US Attorneys.

In 2009, the feds went HAM against a swatting conspiracy, sentencing the 19-year-old ringleader to 11 years. No mercy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:35 PM on February 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


I mean, I know that other online harassment/threats/etc. have not received appropriate attention, but this particular swatting case seems like exactly the kind of thing which causes the feds to clink bottles together and go "come out and plaaaaaaayyyyy".
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:37 PM on February 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


He's the kind of kid who gives hackers a bad name.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:38 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


HAM?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:39 PM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wasn't even sure what it was I hadn't heard of. Was he being accused of something called swatting or something called July swatting?
posted by biffa at 12:42 PM on February 8, 2015


HAM?

NO THANKS, I'M JEWISH.

No, it means "hard as a motherfucker".
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:42 PM on February 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


HAM?

Head-Ass-Mouth: it's a kill shot pattern where you get the perp in the back of his head to put him down, then you shoot him in the ass to humiliate him, then you roll him over and shoot him in the mouth to make sure it's all done.

I mean, that's just a guess.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:43 PM on February 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Attempted murder springs to mind

I know a guy who got shot in a mugging, and they didn't charge the shooter with attempted murder. Apparently it is a difficult charge to convict on, perhaps because the element of intent creates an area for reasonable doubt to thrive in. Whereas the things the mugger was charged with, like assault with a deadly weapon, were more objective. That's my 25 year old memory of his paraphrase of what the DA told him, at least.
posted by thelonius at 12:43 PM on February 8, 2015


Head-Ass-Mouth: it's a kill shot pattern where you get the perp in the back of his head to put him down, then you shoot him in the ass to humiliate him, then you roll him over and shoot him in the mouth to make sure it's all done.

Pish-posh. Once you watch my training DVDs, you'll be able to do it with one shot, just by tossing the perp into the air, like a disc of pizza dough.

I know a guy who got shot in a mugging, and they didn't charge the shooter with attempted murder. Apparently it is a difficult charge to convict on, perhaps because the element of intent creates an area for reasonable doubt to thrive in. Whereas the things the mugger was charged with, like assault with a deadly weapon, were more objective. That's my 25 year old memory of his paraphrase of what the DA told him, at least.

Yeah, IMHO, attempted murder would not fly here. Attempted murder under depraved indifference would be more like "you yourself literally tossing a hand grenade into an occupied station wagon".
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:46 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


H.A.M.
posted by nadawi at 12:51 PM on February 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


For a second, I thought "whether he should be sent to face hacking" meant that one of the punishments under consideration was hacking up his face.
posted by Beardman at 1:05 PM on February 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


I vote solitary confinement for the little shitbag
posted by Renoroc at 1:08 PM on February 8, 2015


That may be his only chance of leaving prison in one piece.
posted by jonmc at 1:10 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just because the words 18 and 19 have the word teen in them does not make someone a teenager

Uhhhh.... It kind of does. That whole QED thing.
posted by Talez at 1:14 PM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


No one is mentioning Fargo yet? Did anyone see where Billy Bob Thorton's character set up the poor personal trainer near the end of the series?

I'm sure that plot device came into the writer's room from internet chat about these events
posted by C.A.S. at 1:19 PM on February 8, 2015


I normally hate prison and like to advocate leniency, but I hope they make an example of this guy. I have heard way too many people referring to this malicious behaviour as a prank. I seem to recall a post online years ago where someone made a reference to swatting ME. Why? Because they didn't like me.

As an adult, I run into all kinds of people who clash with me at a personal level. As an adult, I have to deal with it, like anyone else. The thought of literally trying to ruin someone's life BECAUSE YOU DON'T LIKE THEM is so far beyond the pale it's almost incomprehensible.
posted by quiet earth at 1:23 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


it's not that i wholesale object to calling 18 and 19 year olds teenagers - it's the obviously biased way in which that happens - 19 year white guy sending swat teams to people's houses, getting a hold of banking info, etc is a teen who got carried away with a prank. 15, 17, 18 year old black guys dying as a result of state sanctioned murder are rarely given the teen distinction and are instead thugs, thieves, drug users, and on and on and on.

this is not a "teen prank" - this is a man who could have gotten someone killed and the media (or any of us) shouldn't minimize that.
posted by nadawi at 1:29 PM on February 8, 2015 [46 favorites]


nadawi: flip side of the "[urban] youths" dogwhistle, yeah?
posted by thegears at 1:41 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I betcha in a year or two we'll see online campaigns trying to get leniency for this guy "railroaded by the feds" for a long prison stretch for a "harmless prank." That will make it easier to see who the other assholes are.
posted by msalt at 2:18 PM on February 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


If ever there was a case for getting tough as an example, it is this. While after a certain point lengthy prison terms bring diminishing returns, this guy should do at least as much time as is warranted for a premeditated violent and potential deadly crime and should also be subjected to a fine so onerous that he will be paying for it for decades.

Kids do stupid and impulsive things (and yes, even at 19, your brain is really still not fully developed)— but there's no excuse for this and good reason to believe that a few highly publicized prosecutions with awful outcomes for the perps will actually make a difference (unlike in say, impulsive crimes like fights which turn deadly).
posted by Maias at 3:14 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just because the words 18 and 19 have the word teen in them does not make someone a teenager

Uhhhh.... It kind of does. That whole QED thing.


I see what you are saying. That is a pretty strict dictionary definition, and I suppose you can have overlap between being a teen and being an adult. When I was growing up, my impression was that we used it in a narrower way that corresponded to a notion of adolescence, which (I think) is that stage between puberty and adulthood. I thought this was a pretty common use of the term. As 18 is the age of majority, people become men and women at that point, no longer adolescents. I suppose people can legitimately equivocate on how the term is used, but it sure does seem to be convenient at times for biased reasons. It's that biased use that is irritating, not the definition (as nadawi points out quite well).
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:02 PM on February 8, 2015


For whatever it's worth, when they swat people, they usually pretend that there are armed home invaders holding them hostage.

The fake police reports I've seen posted on Twitter have been submitted online, not via phone, and are along the lines of "this person was acting weird and talking about making pipe bombs in their basement".

So yeah, bad on the people making the false reports, but bad on the police for being perfectly willing to send an armed group of angry fuckers with weapons loaded due to any dumbshit in the world claiming any sort of bullshit online.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:09 PM on February 8, 2015


I wonder if this is the same person who triggered the Delta airlines drama a couple of weeks ago with fake bomb threats. Also I wonder if he will end up linked into the whole baph /gamergate craziness.
posted by humanfont at 5:21 PM on February 8, 2015


The fake police reports I've seen posted on Twitter have been submitted online, not via phone, and are along the lines of "this person was acting weird and talking about making pipe bombs in their basement".

So yeah, bad on the people making the false reports, but bad on the police for being perfectly willing to send an armed group of angry fuckers with weapons loaded due to any dumbshit in the world claiming any sort of bullshit online.


That would indeed be absolutely ridiculous, but--we're talking actual SWATtings happened with those fake police reports? Because the Portland case (perpetuated by one or more GamerGaters) involved someone claiming they had hostages and were threatening violence. The guy who just got SWATted from Twitch, they said that there had been a murder and the perpetrator was still in the house. The Bungie exec, claims that the person was holding their family hostage with an assault rifle. Those are not "acting weird" kind of situations, those are "people are in peril this very moment" kinds of situations.

I'm very much against the militarization of the American police, but the idea is usually to come up with something so extreme that it would provoke an extreme reaction from law enforcement no matter what equipment they had available. Also, at least all three of those incidents were said to have been provoked by "callers", not online submissions. People who make fake police reports are bad no matter what, but it's the fact that these are clearly intended to make the police believe that there's a real violent situation going on at that very moment that make them so reckless towards human life.
posted by Sequence at 5:22 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't know if the report I saw was actively swatted; I lost the link ... I was hesitant to favorite it lest I be targeted for swatting myself ... isn't that fucked up? It's beyond Brazil and Tuttle-vs-Buttle -- now there's no goddamn apology for a armed goon squad coming to your home, because obviously you aren't in danger from this group of professionals. With all the money on militarization and surveillance, you'd think they could check the incoming number to see if it's Skype.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:40 PM on February 8, 2015


. With all the money on militarization and surveillance, you'd think they could check the incoming number to see if it's Skype.

Your average law enforcement guy just barely has a handle on the fact that Twitter and Facebook are two different things, in my estimation. I doubt they'd know what Skype is, much less how to check a number for it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:29 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not the average law enforcement guy who makes the decision to deploy a SWAT team. That's at a pay grade that should be looking at all the available evidence before pumping up the SWAT boner.
posted by Etrigan at 6:37 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Swatting is often done without the use of Skype. The whole point is to make the call appear to be coming from where the caller says it's coming from. It's not remarkably easy to see through it on the receiving end, and when the call is something to the effect of great violence or the immediate threat thereof going down, time is of the essence.

That would indeed be absolutely ridiculous, but--we're talking actual SWATtings happened with those fake police reports?

Yeah, good point. Brandon here called in reporting a murder, for example; not someone making a pipe bomb.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:40 PM on February 8, 2015


I betcha in a year or two we'll see online campaigns trying to get leniency for this guy "railroaded by the feds" for a long prison stretch for a "harmless prank." That will make it easier to see who the other assholes are.

I looked around and discovered the online campaigns started several months ago. Apparently this guy is a leader of "Finest Squad" which is some gamer team that is in a feud with Lizard Squad (notorious for the xmas xbox DDoS). So there is a huge interlocking network of YouTube disinformation videos claiming that anything that happens to Finest Squad is a prank by Lizard Squad, and vice versa. There is much mutual taunting. They are all assholes and everything they do sickens me. I wholeheartedly endorse the use of excessive police force against all of them. They are little terrorists, let DHS deal with them. There is no xbox in GITMO.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:14 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Brian Krebs wrote in detail about his SWATting in 2013:

The cop that took the report from me after the incident said someone had called 911 using a Caller ID number that matched my mobile phone number; the caller claimed to be me, reporting that Russians had broken into the home and shot my wife.

The 911 call was actually made via instant message chats using a relay service designed for hearing impaired and deaf callers.
posted by gemmy at 7:21 PM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I thought of Krebs right away. That happened to him around the time that a SWAT team killed someone's dog in a raid, and Krebs was justifiably nervous. Luckily, he'd already made friendly with the local chief of police before another "Internet friend" tried to Express Mail him a package of drugs. (Story also contains references to Silk Road, for added topicality!)

Krebs sounds pretty awesome.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:33 PM on February 8, 2015


It's not the average law enforcement guy who makes the decision to deploy a SWAT team. That's at a pay grade that should be looking at all the available evidence before pumping up the SWAT boner.

So a higher position and therefore likely an older person and therefore likely less tech-savvy?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:34 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


an older person and therefore likely less tech-savvy?
What do you need to use to check a SWAT call? Snapchat?
posted by thelonius at 8:00 PM on February 8, 2015


"Famed God," meanwhile, is also said to have hacked the gaming consoles owned by two others and threatened to put somebody "in debt for life" by accessing banking information.

Im not sure where the article is getting 5 years, I guess just on the state charges since it doesn't appear the feds are involved yet. But federal wire fraud is 20 years. If he actually accessed banking info too, that's probably the most serious charge available.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:17 PM on February 8, 2015


If what Google attributes in the way of "hacking" to Famed God is in fact attributable to this guy, I have a feeling the SWATting part is going to get forgotten pretty quickly amid other charges. Guess we'll see.
posted by Sequence at 8:57 PM on February 8, 2015


I knew swatting was a thing... but I didn't realize it was so prevalent that people have goddamn youtube compilation vidz yt of multiple incidents. There's some scary shit here.

Reason people hate cops #10029: Even when you are an innocent white nerd obeying all commands the way they talk to you is, "Don't you fucking move, you hear me boy?"
posted by Drinky Die at 9:19 PM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


"New donation, $1 from F the Police" Oh, gamer audience. I love and hate you at the same time.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:23 PM on February 8, 2015


So the facial hair that Famed God sports? Is that what's sometimes referred to as a neckbeard?

Because it's not a good look. I can see why it warrants all the mockery.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:31 PM on February 8, 2015


The streamer world is such a weird area. There are lots of mini-celebrities that have their names and faces out there and they make a living from it, but the fame is incredibly contained. I can name you a couple famous Hearthstone streamers, but nobody from any other game since I don't watch them. The fame doesn't even cross into other gaming communities, much less the outside world. But it's enough to get the trolls and cranks going occasionally.

So, the famous streamers can deal with some of the same thing actual celebrities do...like crank fans. But then if the police show up at the house of a movie star or even the local newscaster, they know to include the possibility of a crank fan in their decision making. In the internet age, they have no way of knowing the person they are raiding has obsessive fans of their own in some weird online subculture.

And it certainly doesn't help that so many of the games feature loud simulated gunfire, or someone wearing a headset so they don't hear knocks.

They need to be provided better tools to properly identify callers, but there are times where they are going to have to raid anyway. In that case, all I can say is err towards not shooting people and pets as much as you can and to be friggin polite about it when you can.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:44 PM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think he should get a long sentence. I do see it as a form of attempted murder. The cops aren't intending to kill anyone, but hey if the target happens to make the wrong move it can easily end up that way. You hear someone barging into your house but didn't hear them say police because you have headphones on, maybe you reach for a gun thinking it's a home invader. Home invasions have been caught on streams too.

That said, I don't think we should focus on overly long sentences as a message here, we need every single person who engages in it caught and and prosecuted. Law enforcement has the technology for this, I think? At least as long as it comes from within the US at least, right?
posted by Drinky Die at 9:56 PM on February 8, 2015


You all do realize that SWATting is a USA thing, right?

SWATters may be trollicious sadistic twits, but it takes police paramilitary ultraviolence, and lack of personal or departmental consequences when they make a mistake, to make SWATting possible in the first place.

Also, phone number (and email - not sure about Twitter) spoofing software is widely available and easy to use; no l33t skillz needed. Unless one has seriously locked down identity/location clues, less than a half-hour's search would yield a US target's probable location (especially if they are currently online or have a mobile device turned on) and phone number needed to place faked calls.
posted by Dreidl at 11:49 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]




I should note, in the past I've been the target of less violent malicious pranking/attacks, and have been continuously monitoring developments ever since. Gamergate made me realize how much more time/effort I am going to have to waste on protecting myself. Thank goodness I'm out of any public IT or religious role whatsoever; I'm just not an interesting target, though randomness can be part of the terror style, too.
posted by Dreidl at 12:02 AM on February 9, 2015


I don't see how a long sentence in jail/prison is going to help this fellow, and by proxy society. There is a pretty good chance that prison could make him more callous and anti-social. Maybe middle-class white people* will stop "swatting" other middle-class white people* due to the threat of incarceration, nevertheless the fact that SWAT teams are such a prevalent part of policing in the USA is the true crime.

* Guess what, innocent people (mostly poor, and mostly in ghettos) have been the targets of "swatting" since at least the 80s (likely much earlier, though in a different form). Now that some middle class white people have to deal with having a police battalion in war/rampage mode show up at their door and bust through their house, guns drawn, it's time to deal with this disgraceful state of affairs?

I lived through a mistaken SWAT raid, back when I was seven years old. Yeah, at that time my family lived on a block in S. Philly where there were crack houses and cocaine/heroin dealers - a lot of these houses/dealers had families with young children; additionally, the majority of the people on the block were not involved in the drug game, they were mainly just poor and not white. To this day (over 25 years later), I don't think there is an excuse for using SWAT team tactics ever.

So, let's talk about "swatting," but let's also talk about the reasons why our police forces use SWAT teams and how/why they became an integral part of policing in this country. Also, it would be cool if we as a society were able to discuss crime and punishment through different lenses - restorative justice anyone?
posted by nikoniko at 12:23 AM on February 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is one of my pet peeves about media reporting at times. If you are a grown adult, you shouldn't be referred to as a teen anymore.

Being 19 is still being a teen, especially in a country where y'all aren't trusted with alcohol until 21.

No matter what kind of jagoff this kid is, trying as an adult seems whack.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:13 AM on February 9, 2015


there is absolutely no mechanism for trying him as a minor. he is legally an adult. regardless, chances are everything will get pleaded down (if this his first time in custody) and he'll end up with a few years of probation and some community service.
posted by nadawi at 6:20 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't see how a long sentence in jail/prison is going to help this fellow, and by proxy society.

What could help is if, reliably, predictably, most of the time, "SWAT-ing" someone would get you arrested and jailed. Hasn't research showed that it's the predictability of consequences, not their severity, that makes deterrence work?
posted by thelonius at 6:50 AM on February 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hasn't research showed that it's the predictability of consequences, not their severity, that makes deterrence work?

In general, yes. That's one reason to view this as a possible deterrent even if, as nadawi suggests, he may plead down to lesser consequences.
posted by thegears at 6:54 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't see how a long sentence in jail/prison is going to help this fellow, and by proxy society.

It will keep him away from a computer for anywhere between five to twenty years. That sounds like it helps society, and beyond that, I don't really care about helping him.

I knew someone would bring up the "Only a lad" argument, but it looks like he's had all kinds of privilege, and he still choose to use his knowledge to try to hurt people. I don't have a lot of patience with people like that.
posted by happyroach at 7:17 AM on February 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


I don't see how a long sentence in jail/prison is going to help this fellow, and by proxy society.

Swatting will stop being a funny way to impress your friends completely free of any consequences to yourself.

He'll do great on the post-prison speaking fees.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:07 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


You all do realize that SWATting is a USA thing, right?

Nope, happened in British Columbia.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:55 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just as the 420chan swatting happened in Canada, too. It can happen pretty much anywhere there's some paramilitary branch of the police.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:04 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


billyfleetwood: Should be noted that this also wouldn't be a thing if the Police were a little less eager to use their SWAT teams to begin with. The idea that a SWAT team could be deployed without the situation first being asessed and verified by an Officer on the ground is frightening.
"911, what is your sitation?"

[barely audible whisper] "i'm at school, and there's someone (long pause) shooting people. oh god he just shot mr. shaw..."

"OK, stay right there. A police car will be shortly to verify your story, and if those background sounds of screaming turn out to be real, we'll promptly send a SWAT team."

--

Seriously? THAT seems more reasonable than sending the SWAT team on the assumption that the 911 call is likely legitimate?
posted by IAmBroom at 10:51 AM on February 9, 2015


When there's an active-shooter-in-a-school, I haven't yet seen a situation where the SWAT team just bursts in and starts firing at people. They do have a tendency to do so when serving no-knocks on private homes, though.
posted by rtha at 11:23 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


rtha: When there's an active-shooter-in-a-school, I haven't yet seen a situation where the SWAT team just bursts in and starts firing at people. They do have a tendency to do so when serving no-knocks on private homes, though.
Fair enough - change the above sentence to "i'm in my bedroom, and..." (keep all the rest). Still going to wait on sending that response unit?
posted by IAmBroom at 11:29 AM on February 9, 2015


feckless fecal fear mongering: HAM?
Sticherbeast: No, it means "hard as a motherfucker".
Lentrohamsanin: Head-Ass-Mouth: it's a kill shot pattern where you get the perp in the back of his head to put him down, then you shoot him in the ass to humiliate him, then you roll him over and shoot him in the mouth to make sure it's all done.
If we're voting on this, Lentrohamsanin has my (eponysterical) vote.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:29 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Still going to wait on sending that response unit?

I would expect them to do the basic reconnaissance necessary to establish that there is an incident at all; that there are approximately [X] number of people in the home; whether or not there are children likely to be present.
posted by rtha at 11:50 AM on February 9, 2015


I read the link about Koopatroopa getting swatted while streaming and thought "Wait, didn't that happen months ago?" Upon checking, that was Kootra.
posted by Lexica at 11:52 AM on February 9, 2015


In 2009, the feds went HAM against a swatting conspiracy

When you trick the Black Chamber into deploying GREENEGGS against a streamer, that's well beyond swatting.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:59 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I had heard of SWATting but had not seen the confluence with live-streaming. I guess that means you get to watch it happen.
posted by RobotHero at 1:18 PM on February 9, 2015




there is absolutely no mechanism for trying him as a minor. he is legally an adult. regardless, chances are everything will get pleaded down (if this his first time in custody) and he'll end up with a few years of probation and some community service.

A little belatedly, but: I don't think this is very likely. There appears to be evidence of multiple incidents, for one thing, and also the same individual may have been involved with some attacks on Sony last summer at the very least. They got to take his computer as a part of this, and I'm guessing a lot of stuff is waiting to get charged once they've actually had time to go through and get more evidence. I don't think you get treated as much like a teenager who was just having a laugh when they have to involve law enforcement in multiple states.
posted by Sequence at 11:48 AM on February 10, 2015


Seriously? THAT seems more reasonable than sending the SWAT team on the assumption that the 911 call is likely legitimate?

The problem is not the sending the SWAT team. We dispatch a lot more fire rescue vehicle than many incidents need. The problem is that the SWAT team then busts down the door and maybe tosses in their flash bangs, waves around their guns, maybe gets nervous and shoots someone.

Putting aside technical solutions like "call the number registred to that house" - which I don't see why that can't be doable, at least for homes with land lines - they could just knock. Or stand on the sidewalk with a bullhorn. The number of scenarios that wouldn't have any noise to be heard from outside and would pose an imminent threat and which would require initial stealth from the responding officers is so small as to be non-plausible.

Put that on one side and put on the other what we know about how US cops tend to respond. The DC police were just presented with a lawsuit which includes among its basis their conducting a no-knock raid over an animal cruelty report.
posted by phearlez at 12:03 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


« Older Uh...   |   Beyond Traffic. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments