LOS ANGELES – Two hackers have been accused of sending fired gunshots and bomb threats to hundreds of schools and other US and British institutions, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
The two men are members of Apophis Squad, a global group of hackers who want to use the Internet to "wreak havoc," the Justice Department said in Los Angeles.
Timothy Vaughn of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was arrested this week by the FBI. The 20-year-old man used the online handles "WantedbyFeds" and "Hacker_R_US", according to the indictment.
George Duke-Cohan, 19, of Hertfordshire, UK, is currently serving a jail term in Britain for a hoax threat to an airliner. Among his usernames on the Internet are "DigitalCrimes", as shown by court documents.
It was not clear at the time if the defendants had lawyers who could comment on the crime charges including threats of injury in interstate commerce and threats involving explosives.
The indictment alleges that the Apophis Brigade uttered false threats and engaged in a "mop-up", in which a bogus report was drafted to trigger the deployment of emergency response teams.
The pirates have issued false threats of gunfire and attacks last year in order to "raise fears of imminent danger and have resulted in the closure of hundreds of schools on two continents" to several times, "says the indictment.A fictitious threat has targeted the Los Angeles International Airport.
Apophis Squad members used "usurped" e-mail addresses to make believe that threats had been sent by innocent parties, including the mayor of London, according to court documents.
They are also accused of launching denial of service attacks, in which a hacker disables a computer network by flooding it with data, including an attack on a site that has destroyed the website. A motor sports company in California for three days.
Duke-Cohan is accused of calling the FBI office in Omaha, Nebraska to discuss the deployment of deadly pathogens in the building and threatening to rape and kill the woman from an employee who had answered the phone.