About two weeks ago, Matthew Tollis, 22, received a prison sentence for swatting. For those who do not know what swatting is, it is when someone makes a false emergency call to get law enforcement to go to a location. Usually swatting describes someone who targets someone’s home, and not a public place, which is what Tollis did. It is a very dangerous hoax, and it is a federal crime.
Tollis, from Connecticut, pleaded guilty to faking a bomb threat. Apparently Tollis was involved in six fake emergency calls in 2014, according to the Verge. One of the calls Tollis made resulted in the University of Connecticut being shut down for three hours because the police were searching for explosives.
A judge sentenced Tollis to 12 months and one day in prison. Aside from the prison sentence, Tollis received three years of supervised release, as well as 300 hours of community service.
Authorities arrested Tollis in September of last year, and the Justice Department said Tollis was part of a group called TCOD, short for Team Crucifix or Die. Tollis apparently found potential institutes for the group to target. In addition to phone numbers, Tollis would gather other information about the targets.
Boston University and the Boston Convention Center were also targeted by Tollis and the group. Tollis was also involved in threats towards two high schools in New Jersey and a high school in Texas.
The sentence Tollis received takes into account his role in all of the incidents. According to NJ, one of the incidents Tollis was involved in lead to the evacuation of St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel, New Jersey. The threat was deemed a hoax after authorities searched the school. The following day, Tollis was involved in another call, but this time the call was made to Allentown High School in Upper Freehold, NJ, and authorities deemed that incident a hoax after they had searched for a bomb.
In the Holmdel hoax, the Holmdel Police received a phone call, and they were told that there was a bomb located inside the high school. Not only did the caller say there was a bomb inside the school, but they indicated that there was someone at the school and that that person was armed, according to NJ.
US Attorney Deirdre Daly released a state after Tollis was sentence. Daly said that swatting was not just some schoolboy prank. According to Complex, Daly said that what Tollis did was a federal crime, and that they hoped that the prosecution of Tollis would deter others from doing the same thing. Daly described what Tollis did as immature, dangerous, and criminal.
As of now, Tollis remains a free man because he is out on bail. However, Tollis will be turning himself in on November 15, according to SlashGear. As for the other members of the group, as of now there have been no arrests made.
The group Tollis was part of is made up of mostly Xbox gamers. Also, unlike Tollis, many of the members are located in the United Kingdom. However, the Justice Department is working with British authorities to investigate.
One security expert said the group Tollis belonged to renamed itself. Apparently the new name is ISIS Gang, and they have ties to a hacker by the name of Julius Kivimaki. Kivimaki was arrested and convicted earlier this year after he was caught using malicious software to steal people’s credit card numbers from computer systems. Tollis said he joined the group because his address and personal information became public knowledge after hackers posted it online. Tollis said that he joined the group with hopes that it would discourage people from bullying him.
[Photo via UConn Police Department]