A California teenager prosecutors say is liable for lots of of swatting assaults round the USA was uncovered after legislation enforcement pieced collectively a digital path left on a number of the web’s largest platforms, based on courtroom information launched this week.
Alan Winston Filion, a 17-year-old from Lancaster, California, faces 4 felony fees in Florida’s Seminole County associated to swatting, or pretend threats referred to as into the police to impress a forceful response, based on Florida state prosecutors. Police arrested Filion on January 18, and he was extradited to Seminole County this week.
Filion’s arrest, first reported by WIRED on January 26, marks the end result of a multi-agency manhunt for the particular person police declare is liable for swatting assaults on excessive faculties, traditionally black faculties and universities, mosques, and federal brokers, and for threats to bomb the Pentagon, members of the USA Senate, and the US Supreme Court docket. Finally, a YouTube channel, Discord chats, and usernames associated to The Lord of the Rings helped lead authorities to Filion’s doorstep.
Florida prosecutors charged Filion with 4 felony counts, together with three associated to allegedly making false studies to legislation enforcement and one for illegal use of a two-way radio for “facilitating or furthering an act of terrorism” that authorities say focused individuals based mostly on race, faith, or different protected courses. Whereas prosecutors alleged that Filion “is liable for lots of of swatting and bomb risk incidents all through the USA,” the fees Filion faces relate to a single Might 12, 2023, swatting assault towards the Masjid Al Hayy Mosque in Sanford, Florida.
An legal professional for Filion was not instantly accessible to answer WIRED’s request for remark.
Greater than a yr earlier than the swatting assault on the Florida mosque, brokers with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed Filion’s father, William, at his residence in Lancaster, California, based on courtroom paperwork made public on Wednesday. The interview befell on April 21, 2022, the identical day the proprietor of a Telegram channel linked to swatting exercise posted, “SOMEONE JUST REPORTED ME TO THE FBI… LOL!”
In October 2022, authorities investigating swatting incidents involving calls made to a faculty in Anacortes, Washington, got here throughout a Telegram consumer related to a number of swatting and doxing channels. The consumer, “Nazgul Swattings,” had claimed duty in one in every of these channels for the threats to the Washington faculties, based on the identical courtroom paperwork.
Over the next months, courtroom information say, the FBI monitored channels linked to this consumer. A kind of, a channel referred to as Torswats (previously Nazgul Swats), had shared recordings of practically 20 hoax calls threatening areas across the nation, together with faculties in Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Because the FBI tracked Torswats’ public channels, Brad “Cafrozed” Dennis, a non-public investigator, was working his personal parallel investigation on behalf of high-profile Twitch streamers who’d been swatted. In December, Dennis reached out to a consumer behind Torswats and requested to talk on a peer-to-peer chatting service referred to as Tox underneath the guise of ordering a swat. Based on information shared with WIRED, not talked about within the arrest warrant, whereas interacting on Tox, Dennis used Wireshark to watch his community site visitors. Within the course of, he uncovered an IP tackle and the username “Paimon Arnum,” which was beforehand unknown to legislation enforcement.