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Hackers Use Amazon Ring Cameras to Livestream Swatting Attacks, Taunt Police

Federal prosecutors have charged two men with allegedly taking part in a spree of swatting attacks against over a dozen owners of compromised Amazon Ring home security cameras. The hackers made fake emergency calls, then used the compromised Amazon doorbells to taunt responding police.

Ars Technica reports that federal prosecutors have charged two individuals for their alleged involvement in a series of swatting attacks targeting the owners of compromised Ring home security cameras. The suspects are accused of using their access to these cameras to livestream the police response on social media. The attacks affected more than a dozen individuals.

Kya Christian Nelson, a 21-year-old from Racine, Wisconsin, and James Thomas Andrew McCarty, a 20-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, are accused of accessing 12 Ring cameras by hacking into the Yahoo Mail accounts of their respective owners, according to an indictment filed on Friday in the Central District of California.

The indictment states that the men made hoax emergency calls to local police departments, with the intention of inciting an armed response, during a single week starting on November 7, 2020. This type of crime is known as swatting. Swatting attacks have resulted in deaths, and frequently disrupt organizations such as schools. Breitbart reported in October that there were 92 false school shooting reports in September of this year.

On November 8, local police in West Covina, California received a fake emergency call claiming to be from a minor child saying that their parents had been drinking and firing guns inside the home. Upon the police’s arrival at the residence, Nelson is accused of using the home’s Ring doorbell to threaten and mock the responding officers.

According to the prosecutors, the two men and an additional, unnamed accomplice first obtained the login information for Yahoo accounts and then checked to see if the account owner had a Ring account linked to a doorbell camera. They allegedly used their access to gather the names and other personal information of the account holders. The defendants are accused of making the hoax emergency calls and waiting for armed officers to respond.

Prosecutors wrote: “Defendants Nelson and McCarty would access without authorization the victims’ Ring devices and thereafter transmit the audio and video from those devices on social media during the police response. Defendants Nelson and McCarty would verbally taunt responding police officers and victims through the Ring devices during the police response.”

 

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