YouTube, Discord, and ‘Lord of the Rings’ Led Police to a Teen Accused of a US Swatting Spree

A California little one prosecutors bellow is guilty for hundreds of swatting assaults round the US changed into uncovered after legislation enforcement pieced together a digital path left on a pair of of the web’s biggest platforms, in accordance with court records launched this week.

Alan Winston Filion, a 17-year-former from Lancaster, California, faces four criminal costs in Florida’s Seminole County connected to swatting, or unfounded threats known as into the police to galvanize a forceful response, in accordance with Florida articulate prosecutors. Police arrested Filion on January 18, and he changed into extradited to Seminole County this week.

Filion’s arrest, first reported by WIRED on January 26, marks the final result of a multi-agency manhunt for the actual person police claim is guilty for swatting assaults on excessive faculties, traditionally shadowy faculties and universities, mosques, and federal agents, and for threats to bomb the Pentagon, contributors of the US Senate, and the US Supreme Court. In the slay, a YouTube channel, Discord chats, and usernames connected to The Lord of the Rings helped lead authorities to Filion’s doorstep.

Florida prosecutors charged Filion with four criminal counts, including three connected to allegedly making unsuitable reports to legislation enforcement and one for unlawful employ of a two-design radio for “facilitating or furthering an act of terrorism” that authorities bellow focused folks in accordance with speed, faith, or other receive lessons. While prosecutors alleged that Filion “is guilty for hundreds of swatting and bomb probability incidents throughout the US,” the costs Filion faces expose to a single Can also 12, 2023, swatting attack against the Masjid Al Hayy Mosque in Sanford, Florida.

An criminal professional for Filion changed into now not right this moment readily available to answer to WIRED’s quiz for observation.

Larger than a year before the swatting attack on the Florida mosque, agents with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed Filion’s father, William, at his home in Lancaster, California, in accordance with court paperwork made public on Wednesday. The interview took articulate on April 21, 2022, the identical day the owner of a Telegram channel linked to swatting exercise posted, “SOMEONE JUST REPORTED ME TO THE FBI… LOL!”

In October 2022, authorities investigating swatting incidents intelligent calls made to a college in Anacortes, Washington, stumbled on a Telegram particular person connected with a pair of swatting and doxing channels. The actual person, “Nazgul Swattings,” had claimed duty in a single of these channels for the threats to the Washington faculties, in accordance with the identical court paperwork.

Over the following months, court records bellow, the FBI monitored channels linked to this particular person. Regarded as one of those, a channel known as Torswats (previously Nazgul Swats), had shared recordings of nearly 20 hoax calls threatening places round the country, including faculties in Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

As the FBI tracked Torswats’ public channels, Brad “Cafrozed” Dennis, a interior most investigator, changed into running his comprise parallel investigation on behalf of excessive-profile Twitch streamers who’d been swatted. In December, Dennis reached out to a particular person on the merit of Torswats and requested to chat on a peer-to-peer chatting carrier known as Tox below the guise of ordering a swat. In response to records shared with WIRED, now not talked about in the arrest warrant, whereas interacting on Tox, Dennis historical Wireshark to monitor his network web page online traffic. In the task, he uncovered an IP deal with and the username “Paimon Arnum,” which changed into previously unknown to legislation enforcement.

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