'It just got progressively darker,' alleged swatting victim says
It began with prank calls and pizza deliveries showing up in the middle of the night, but for one family in Stockton, Calif., that was just the beginning.
They say their 14-year-old son had struck up a friendship online while playing the popular game Minecraft with somebody calling himself "C-Boy."
When the friendship soured, the family says they became victims of "swatting" incidents that got more and more disturbing.
"It started when a kind of amusing procession of pizzas began to arrive at the house from every pizzeria in town. They were all ordered online, they were all large pizzas with anchovies, and we had to send them all away," said the boy's father, Michael, whose last name can't be published for legal reasons. "And we thought that was almost funny, except of course we got blacklisted by every pizza place in town.
"And then it just got progressively darker."
Michael said the family's phones were hacked and that they received hundreds of unwanted calls.
Then calls were allegedly made to police from someone claiming to be Michael's son, saying he'd murdered his mother or that he had planted bombs.
In total, the Stockton police department spent about $500,000 U.S. responding to the swatting calls, Michael said.
"Of course it was very disturbing to my son. He's 14 years old, he's a good kid, and bomb threats are being made in his name to the police department, to the mall, to his schools," his father said.
"So although my son was never really suspected of doing anything wrong [and wasn't] accused of anything, he had to sit through a three-hour police interrogation as they tried to get a handle on what was going on."
From there, "it got worse," Michael said.
His wife's car was sold online, an escort was ordered to their home, the IRS sent his wife's tax information to someone else, and his wife's personal banking information and other forms of ID were posted on a website for identity thieves.
Since then, there have been "scores of attempts" to steal her ID and assets, and her credit rating has plummeted, Michael said.
An Ottawa teenager is facing charges in connection with the alleged incidents, as well as dozens of others across North America.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
Hackers who claim to have evidence that the boy is innocent have recently attacked several websites, including the City of Ottawa, Ottawa police and Toronto police websites.