Alleged computer hacker charged with emailing bomb threat to shopping mall
PHILADELPHIA - David Barnhouse, 24, of Horsham, PA, was charged today by superseding indictment with emailing a bomb threat to the Willow Grove Park Mall website and hacking a computer to make it appear as if someone else sent the threat. Barnhouse is charged with threats, unauthorized access to a protected computer, resisting and impeding federal officers, obstruction of service of judicial process, destruction of records in a federal investigation, and destruction of property to prevent seizure.
According to the indictment, on June 20, 2013, Barnhouse hacked into the Verizon FiOS router of his neighbor and, using their Internet service, posted the following message:
“We have planted an explosive device somewhere in the mall, and will detonate it unless all members of the Islamic faith imprisoned in the United States are freed by 7pm on June 23. Even if you search the mall for 72 consecutive hours, you will NEVER find it.”
By using the neighbor’s Verizon service, the defendant made it appear that the neighbors had posted the threat. As a result, on June 20, 2013, FBI agents, believing that the neighbors had posted it, executed a search warrant at the neighbor’s home. After conducting a search and interviewing the neighbors, the agents concluded that they were not the source of the threat.
The indictment further alleges that when agents returned, in November 2013, to execute a search warrant at Barnhouse’s home, Barnhouse tried to activate encryption by unplugging his computer and, during that attempt, fought and struggled with agents.
If convicted of all charges, Barnhouse faces a maximum possible sentence of 37 years in prison, a fine of up to $1.2 million, and up to three years of supervised release.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jeanine Linehan and Michael L. Levy.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525