Hackers decided to launch another prank aimed at an Internet security campaigner, Parry Aftab, using a computer and a cloned phone number to call in a bogus hostage and murder situation to 911 authorities on Sunday.
Wyckoff police dispatched SWAT team members who surrounded Aftab's Hillcrest Avenue home armed with automatic rifles and tear gas. The phony hostage taker and killer demanded a get-away car and $100,000. Officers awaited further instruction but never got it. At least 30 officers stormed the lawyer's suburban home but found no bodies or hostage taker. The only living being in the home, was Aftab's cat, and Mrs. Aftab was out of town.
Benjamin Fox, Wyckoff Police Chief, told Mahwah Patch it's too early in the investigation to determine whether the caller targeted Aftab, when he claimed to have murdered four people in her Wyckoff home. The hoaxer cloned Aftab's number to show up when the 911 call was made.
The anti cyber-bullying activist became a target for the controversial online community '4chan' again after she appeared on the "Good Morning America" last week to talk about the case of 11-year old Jessica 'Jessi Slaughter' Leonhardt. The little girl's online tormentors and their bullying tactics drove the Florida girl to post vulgar-laced youtube videos threatening to kill the Internet thugs in an effort to end the cyber bullying, CBSNews reported.
The move backfired and led to death threats and a psychological evaluation for Leonhardt. The girl told Good Morning America last week that the escalated abuse began with postings regarding her alleged sexual history.
According to Mahwah Patch, Aftab's defense of Leonhardt sparked a daylong attack by Board members against Aftab, which spiraled into a campaign that shut vandalized Aftab's wikipedia page, shut down her websites. The attackers even posted her phone number, address and other personal information across the Internet.
Obviously peeved by the dangerous and annoying shenanigan, Fox said these types of antics are dangerous in that they distract law enforcement and resources from actual incidents. Aftab added that the people responsible are hoping to generate attention, but it's going to be the wrong type of attention, the Daily Mail reported.
Aftab is the founder and executive director of WiredSafety.org, which claims to be the world’s oldest, largest and most popular cyber-safety group. She wrote and promoted the first law enforcement investigators’ guide for social networks, authored the first Internet safety book for parents: A Parent’s Guide to Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace (1997), said the Cliffview Pilot, and last year she was presented with the Director’s Community Leadership Award from the New Jersey FBI Field Office.
The SWAT team call-out to Aftab's home is the latest in a string of incidents called "swatting." It's a practice commonly used by cyber criminals to trick 911 operators into dispatching emergency responders and emergency response teams to a home or place. The pranksters use caller ID spoofing, social engineering, and phone phreaking techniques to pull off the escapades, Wikipedia.com reports. In some instances, the calls are made from cities hundreds of miles away from where the cyber crooks actually send police. The term "swatting" is derived from the name of Special Weapons and Tactics team, SWAT, one of the emergency response teams to arrive at such calls.