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Teen hacker confesses three-year crime spree

DDoS, botnets, SWAT calls, bomb threats, credit fraud...

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A juvenile hacker with a reputation for stirring up trouble in online gaming groups has admitted to multiple computer felonies, including cyber attacks that overwhelmed his victims with massive amounts of data and the placing of hoax emergency phone calls that elicited visits by heavily armed police teams.

Known by the online handle of Dshocker, the 17-year-old Massachusetts hacker also admitted he breached multiple corporate computer systems, called in bomb threats and engaged in credit card fraud. The defendant, who was identified only by the initials N.H., pleaded guilty to charges in court documents that included one count each of computer fraud and interstate threats and four counts of wire fraud.

Dshocker is best known in hacker and gaming circles as the miscreant said to have perpetrated a series of attacks on members of myg0t, an online confederation dedicated to cheating and disrupting play in online games such as Counter Strike. He also unleashed attacks on other well-known hackers, according to online accounts.

According to federal prosecutors in Boston, Dshocker has since 2005 controlled "several" botnets comprising "tens of thousand [sic] of infected computers" used to carry out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on his victims. In January, he turned his attention to a practice known as "swatting," in which he made hoax 911 calls that falsely reported violent crimes were underway. On at least several occasions, the calls prompted visits by armed police.

To fool police, Dshocker spoofed his phone number so it appeared to originate from a victim who was located thousands of miles away. He obtained the victims' numbers and addresses by breaking into the computer systems of their internet service providers and accessing subscriber records. Charter Communications, Road Runner, and Comcast are among the ISPs he broke into.

One call falsely reporting a violent crime in progress was made in March to the police department in Seattle. Another in April was made to police in Roswell, Georgia. Both calls originated from a phone located in Dshocker's home town of Worcester, Massachusetts. He also phoned in a false bomb threat at one school and the presence of an armed gunman at another.

Dshocker didn't limit his illegal hacking to settling grudges with fellow gamers. From 2005 to earlier this year, he used stolen credit card information to make fraudulent purchases. He also managed to gain free internet access by stealing proprietary software from a large, unnamed electronics company and then using it to modify his cable modem.

Dshocker agreed to the imposition of an 11-month sentence of juvenile detention. Had he been tried as an adult, he could have faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. ®

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