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Hacker Gets 8 Years in Prison for Threats to Schools, Airlines

A North Carolina man was sentenced to 95 months in federal prison for his involvement in multiple cyber and swatting attacks.

The man, Timothy Dalton Vaughn, 22, known online under monikers such as “WantedbyFeds” and “Hacker_R_US,” was indicted in early 2019 and pleaded guilty in November 2019.

He admitted to sending threats, conveying false information concerning the use of explosives, intentionally damaging a computer, hacking, and possessing child pornography.

Responsible for making threats of shootings and bombings to numerous schools located in the United States and United Kingdom, Vaughn was sentenced to 95 months in prison for child pornography and 60 months for each of the other charges. He will serve the terms concurrently.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Vaughn was a member of an international collective of hackers and swatters known as Apophis Squad.

The group operated by placing threatening phone calls, sending bogus email reports of attacks at schools, and launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, all meant to cause disruption.

At least 86 school districts were targeted with emails threatening armed students and explosives, the DoJ said. In these emails, Vaughn and others claimed the detonation of a bomb, land mines on sports fields, and rocket-propelled grenade heads under school buses.

Vaughn and others also falsely claimed that men with weapons and explosives hijacked a flight traveling from London to San Francisco.

Furthermore, Vaughn engaged in DDoS extortion in early 2018, when he demanded 1.5 Bitcoin (approximately $20,000 at the time) from a Long Beach company, threatening he would launch a DDoS attack on the firm’s website. He then proceeded with the attack, when the company refused to pay.

Law enforcement also discovered that Vaughn possessed sexually explicit images and videos depicting children.

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