3 men, 3 minors took part in conspiracy ‘to place swatting calls to police,’ officials say

Several people, including a minor from North Carolina, have been accused of a conspiracy coordinated on the dark web to call in false emergencies.

There isn’t much information available about the minor from North Carolina, but we do know the FBI field office in Charlotte helped in the investigation.

We’ve seen the mayhem caused by swatting calls in our area. Local law enforcement officers have descended on places, such as schools and even homes after someone calls in a false report of a serious crime taking place.

Back in April, several hoax shooting calls were made regarding multiple high schools in our area all on the same day. And earlier this year, a Mooresville man was swarmed by police because of a swatting call.

Those incidents aren’t tied to the newly unsealed federal indictment, but this newest case shares insight into how the feds say the hoaxes are carried out. In the indictment, investigators allege three men and three juveniles were all part of a conspiracy “to place swatting calls to police.”

The targets included a shooting threat against a teacher and students at a Delaware high school, a shooting and bomb threat at a casino in Ohio, and a bomb threat at Albany International Airport in New York. They’re also accused of placing a hoax call for a muti-fatal shooting at a Georgia home, as well as impersonating someone while falsely claiming to have killed his son and threatening to burn down the neighborhood. The caller for the latter case also claimed he would kill any responding officers.

In addition, according to the indictment, the North Carolina juvenile called the Houston County, Alabama sheriff’s office falsely claiming he “shot a female in the face, that he had a firearm, and that he was holding a hostage.”

Federal prosecutors said all of the suspects were talking online in a secret group called “Purgatory” on Telegram and Instagram. They posted scripts for swatting calls and urged each other to make the calls. They’re also accused of posting identifying personal information, or “doxxing,” someone in the chat.

If convicted, the suspects could face decades in federal prison.

Channel 9 has reported law enforcement and other local elected leaders want stiffer penalties for people who do this kind of thing.

(WATCH PREVIOUS: New bill would give stiffer penalties for those caught swatting)

Hunter Sáenz

Hunter Sáenz, wsoctv.com

Hunter is a reporter for Channel 9.

Michael Praats

Michael Praats, wsoctv.com

Michael is an investigative producer for Channel 9.

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