Hacker sends Orange County SWAT to raid randomly picked home

Discussion in 'In the News' started by CoolHand, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. CoolHand

    CoolHand Active Member

    I hope they throw this turd in one of the deeper, darker, hellhole prisons for about 20 or so years.

    On the other hand as an IT guy I consider it criminally negligent on the part of the county gov't that this was able to happen. Orange County, CA is not a small rural podunk place with little money or resources to secure and maintain their friggin network.

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/home-ema ... lis-system

    LAKE FOREST – SWAT officers expected to find a victim shot to death, drugs and a belligerent armed suspect when they surrounded the home of an unsuspecting couple, but found they were only a part of a false emergency call caused by a teenager who hacked into the county’s emergency response system, authorities said.

    As officers swarmed the home with assault rifles, dogs and a helicopter, a Lake Forest couple and their two toddlers inside their home slept unsuspectingly.

    On March 29 at 11:30 p.m., authorities allege, Randall Ellis, a 19-year-old from Mukilteo, Wash., hacked into the county’s 911 system from his home and placed a false emergency call, prompting a fully armed response to the home of an unsuspecting couple that could have ended tragically.

    Thinking that a prowler was roaming his back yard, a resident of the home, identified only as Doug B. in the district attorney’s complaint filed in court, walked outside with a kitchen knife as SWAT officers from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department waited with assault rifles.

    “It was just a horrifying experience,†said Doug B., who requested not to be identified further. “You think you feel safe in your own home. We had no idea what was going on.â€

    Doug B. and his wife did not feel safe in their home for weeks after the incident and wondered why their home was the one selected.

    Doug B. was not able to go back to sleep for hours that night, and he rigged the doors and windows before he was able to go to bed.

    “I thought someone was in my back yard, and they were going to get my family,†he said. “It was terrifying for months afterward.â€

    Officers apprehended and cuffed the resident and his wife, identified as Stacy B. It was moments later they learned the call was false, said Lt. Mike McHenry of the South County Investigations Bureau.

    “The danger is significant,†said Lt. Don Barnes, chief of police services for Lake Forest. “That (situation) played out OK, although it scared the victims significantly.â€

    Ellis is expected to appear in an Orange County courtroom Monday to face charges of computer access and fraud, false imprisonment by violence, falsely reporting a crime and assault with an assault weapon by proxy.

    “It’s not a prank,†Emami said. “People’s lives were in danger.â€

    Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, said
    Ellis selected the couple’s name and address at random and electronically transferred false information into the 911 system.

    Authorities believe this is not the only time that Ellis has done this. As part of their investigation, authorities believe Ellis created similar false SWAT responses in Bullhead, Ariz.; Millcreek Township, Pa.; and in his hometown of Mukilteo, Wash.

    False 911 calls are placed all the time, McHenry said, but he said this is the first time someone has hacked into Orange County’s system and created a false call in this way.

    “We’ve seen nothing like this,†McHenry said. “This was unique. This was pretty serious.â€

    Other law enforcement agencies have seen similar breaches into their 911 systems as part of a trend picked up by computer hackers in the nation called “SWATtingâ€, Barnes said.

    The purpose is to create a false 911 call that appears to be coming from the residence in question and prompt a SWAT response from local law enforcement agencies, Barnes said.

    Authorities would not divulge details on how Ellis hacked into the system, stating that doing so would jeopardize the investigation and possibly create copycats. But the call that prompted a full response to the Lake Forest home started as a call to the Orange County Fire Authority as a drug overdose and progressed into a possible murder, McHenry said.

    A supposed teenager stated someone had overdosed on cocaine. The teenager then stated he had been shot in the shoulder and that attackers were going to go shoot and kill his sister, he said.

    Canines, a helicopter and SWAT officers responded to the false call.

    “It was a pretty large response,†McHenry said.

    Through electronic forensics, investigators were able to link Ellis to the false call, Emami said.

    Ellis does not appear to have a criminal record, Emami said, but it looks like he’s done this before. He was taken into custody by authorities in Mukilteo on Friday. He waived extradition Monday in court and is expected to appear in Orange County Superior Court on Oct. 22 for an arraignment hearing.

    Now Doug B. said he is hoping that the upcoming court proceedings can shed some light into why this happened and why his family was argeted.

    “My family is my life and to feel like its being threatened is horrifying,†he said.
  2. ptsmith24

    ptsmith24 New Member

    Knife to a gun fight...knife to a gun fight.


  3. Sharky

    Sharky Active Member

    Unreal.... just another reason no-knocks are not the answer..........Good thing the howmowner wasnt armed and ready to protect his house.

    I pray this never happens to me.....
  4. VolGrad

    VolGrad Tactical Statistician

    I don't think the police response (dogs, choppers, SWAT) was over reacting. Keep in mind we don't know all the details of the call. They were acting on the best info they had available at the time.

    As far as no-knocks. I don't agree with them either, at all. I think it puts the officers at risk even more than the homeowners. If someone kicks in my door unannounced, I will be shooting - and everyone knows I like LEOs. That being said - I don't think this story represents a no-knock warrant service. It sounds like the LEOs did the right thing and showed restraint in not shooting the armed (even if only with a knife) homeowner.

    Now - PROSECUTE THE PUNK KID to the fullest extent of the law. That sorry SOB doesn't know how lucky he is that no one got killed as a result of his "pranks".
  5. Thorsen

    Thorsen New Member

    Prosecute the kid the fullest extent the law allows.

    But once again, this highlights the dangers of no-knock warrants. As Volgrad said, if this had happened to my house, shots would have been fired and I would have most likely either ended up dead or facing charges.
  6. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

    The encounter happened outside, not inside.
  7. VolGrad

    VolGrad Tactical Statistician

    Which is why I said I don't think this reps a no-knock service.
  8. fallison

    fallison Guest

    Also, if I understand correctly, they weren't there to serve a warrant but to protect innocents. They thought they were walking into a murder/hostage situation, so I see the response as completely justified. The punk hacker is just damned licky he didn't get somebody killed.
  9. VolGrad

    VolGrad Tactical Statistician

    Again, my original point. I think the hacker is "licky" too. :rotfl2:

    PS fallison - I was in your neck of the woods at the Mt Festival this weekend. Ate way too much. Beautiful area. Perfect weather.
  10. SigP229

    SigP229 Active Member

    If that guy had walked outside with a gun instead of a knife?? Probably have a different ending.
  11. fallison

    fallison Guest

    Agreed, but not the fault of the police response. If the call had been true and it was your family, how would you want them to respond?
  12. VolGrad

    VolGrad Tactical Statistician

    FULL FORCE. Then I would make them a pot of coffee and have the Mrs. bake some cookies as a thanks.
  13. fallison

    fallison Guest

    If you get back up here, PM me and we can get together. I would enjoy meeting some other GCO folks. And yeah, going to the festivals pretty much always means eating too much :)
  14. CoolHand

    CoolHand Active Member

    Yep the hacker deserves a lot of grief but what about the local gov't? They collect MILLIONS of bucks every year from taxes earmarked specifically for 911 from every swinging richard with a phone. Is it to much to ask that they ensure the vendors are providing them with a secure system and they audit their equipment and procedures so crap such as this or worse never happens?