DALLAS - Stuart Rosoff, Jason Trowbridge and Chad Ward, the lead defendants in a swatting conspiracy that involved more than 250 victims, up to $250,000 in losses, and disruption of services for telecommunications providers and emergency responders, have each been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jane J. Boyle to 60 months in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas. Rosoff, a/k/a "Michael Knight," of Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced today. He pled guilty in November 2007, to one count of conspiracy to use access devices to modify telecommunications instruments and to access protected telecommunications computers. He has been in custody since his arrest in June 2007, when he, and three co-defendants, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Dallas. All of the defendants have pled guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.
Rosoff's co-defendant, Jason Trowbridge, a/k/a "Jason from California" and "John from California," was sentenced last week to 60 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. On April 24, 2008, co-defendant Chad Ward, a/k/a "Dark Angel," was also sentenced to 60 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Co-defendant Angela Roberson, a/k/a "Amber" and "Lil Miss Angela," who was arrested with Trowbridge in Houston, is scheduled to be sentenced on June 5, 2008. In a separate case, another member of the conspiracy, Guadalupe Santana Martinez pled guilty to his role and was sentenced in March 2008 to 30 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.
Judge Boyle also ordered that Rosoff, Ward and Roberson, along with Guadalupe Santana Martinez, pay, jointly and severally, $24,706 restitution to be disbursed to various victims of their crimes. In addition, Judge Boyle ordered that Rosoff and Trowbridge pay $48,872 restitution, jointly and severally, to the Verizon Fraud Investigation Unit.
In pronouncing sentence on Trowbridge, Ward and Rosoff, Judge Boyle noted that the federal statutes didn't provide a long enough sentence to punish the egregious conduct engaged in by the defendants and the suffering they caused their victims.
"Swatting" refers to falsely reporting an emergency to a police department to cause a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) response to a physical address, or making a false report to elicit an emergency response by other first responders, such as adult protective services, to a specific physical address. Martinez and others made phone calls to 911 while spoofing the caller I.D. of someone for the purpose of harassment, intimidation or extortion. "Spoofing" refers to the modification of caller I.D. information to conceal the true identity of a caller. Calls to 911 were made with spoofed caller I.D. information by using commercial spoof cards and other means to convince first responders that the emergency call was really coming from the victim's residence.
According to documents filed in the Rosoff case, from at least January 2004, Rosoff participated in multiple party line chat groups including the "Jackie Donut," the "Seattle Donut," and the"Boston Loach" with his three co-defendants, unindicted co-conspirators, including Guadalupe Santana Martinez, and others.
They agreed that members of the conspiracy would make unauthorized access to telecommunication company information stored on protected computers to obtain personal identity information of their intended targets. They also agreed to use software/hardware configured to insert or modify telecommunication access devices and account information for telephone customers and employees, in order to obtain free telephone service or discontinue service for telephone subscribers.
Rosoff admitted that he turned on telephone service for himself and others in the name of third parties. In addition, he admitted that he accessed telecommunication provider facilities and turned off telephone services of party line chat group participants for harassment, and conducted swats on party line participants, their friends and families. During the conspiracy, Rosoff obtained personal identification information on individuals targeted for swatting from the party line chat group's conversations by using social engineering techniques on telephone company employees and others and from co-defendant Trowbridge exceeding his authorized access to commercial databases which contained files of a consumer reporting agency.
In June 2006, Rosoff, Ward, Trowbridge, Roberson, and other unindicted co-conspirators, agreed to "swat" an Alvarado, Texas, family whose daughter was a party line chat group participant. On June 12, 2006, Martinez placed a spoofed phone call to the number for non-emergency services for the Alvarado, Texas, Police Department using a voice over internet protocol phone (VoIP) and a spoof card to conceal his true identity to make it appear that the call was actually made from the family's residence. Martinez identified himself as a family member and told the dispatcher that he had shot and killed members of the family, that he was holding hostages, that he was using hallucinogenic drugs, and that he was armed with an AK47. He demanded $50,000 and transportation across the U.S. border into Mexico, and threatened to kill the remaining hostages if his demands were not met.
On October 1, 2006, Martinez called the 911 non-emergency services telephone number of the Fort Worth, Texas, Police Department and identified himself as he did on June 12, 2006, when he called the Alvarado, Texas, Police Department. He stated that he had shot and killed members of the family, that he was holding hostages, that he was using hallucinogenic drugs, and that he was armed. Martinez told the dispatcher that he would kill the remaining hostages if his demands were not met. Martinez again placed the call using a VoIP phone and a spoof card to conceal his true identity and make it appear as if the call were a true emergency call placed from the family's residence.
According to documents filed in Court, at least two victims received injuries from 2004 until June 2006, as a result of the swatting calls. Rosoff admitted knowing that injuries were received by one victim, an infirm, elderly male who resided in New Port Richey, Florida, and that as a result of the swatting activities resulting in a SWAT response, i.e., road closings, etc., normal municipal activities were disrupted in Yonkers, New York and other locations due to the false emergency calls. The swatting activities engaged in by the conspirators involved more than 250 victims including individuals, telecommunications providers, and emergency responders resulting in losses of $120,000 - $250,000, and resulting in the disruption of the services of the telecommunications providers and emergency responders which are both part of the national infrastructure.
U.S. Attorney Roper praised the investigative efforts of the FBI. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda C Groves.