Edmonton police joint investigation leads to arrest of teen accused of masterminding numerous swatting incidents in Canada and U.S.

The youth is accused of using a VoIP to call law enforcement agencies, schools, universities, airports, businesses and personal residences.

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Saskatoon — A joint investigation involving Edmonton Police Service, Saskatoon Police Service and United States law enforcement agencies led to the arrest of a 15-year-old boy for allegedly making multiple swatting calls in both Canada and the United States.

Swatting is a practice where someone makes a phone call describing a false life-threatening situation in order to provoke an armed police response. The practice has led to dangerous situations, including when law enforcement fatally shot a man in Kansas in 2017 after being sent to his house by a fraudulent call. In many cases, the perpetrators use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which make calls difficult to trace.

The teen, who was arrested by the Louisiana Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, is accused of using a VoIP to call law enforcement agencies, schools, universities, airports, businesses and personal residences. Police allege the teen claimed violence with weapons had occurred and that people were critically injured.

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The arrest comes after the SPS began a joint investigation with EPS and several U.S. law enforcement agencies on Sept. 3, 2020 to investigate swatting incidents happening on both sides of the border.

The teen was identified following an investigation by the EPS cybercrime unit, SPS, the Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team, the United States Secret Service and the FBI joint terrorism task force. 

The EPS received approval to execute a search warrant at a home in Saskatoon on Nov. 19, 2020. This was carried out by local police and evidence was seized. Police are not providing the address of the home because the investigation is ongoing.

He is charged with “second degree false public alarm impending bomb” under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice and is facing extradition to other jurisdictions in the U.S. to face charges and prosecution for offences he allegedly committed while living in Saskatoon.

In a news release Thursday, Saskatoon police did not list specific locations the teen called, but said one of the calls was to a major U.S. metropolitan police department that resulted in an armed response by local law enforcement.

“All of the incidents committed by the individual were false yet incited panic and fear, and cost tens of thousands of dollars in emergency response throughout both Canada and the U.S. Thankfully, no persons were injured as a result,” Saskatoon police said in a release.

More charges are anticipated in both Canada and the U.S., Saskatoon police said.

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