Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Alabama Man Indicted in East Texas “Swatting” Case
PLANO, Texas – A 19-year-old Tuscaloosa, Alabama man has been indicted for federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales.
Stephen Sherwin Stepho was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 14, 2012 and charged with making an interstate threat.
According to the indictment, Stepho, who operates under the Xbox Gamertag “NuBlom,” is alleged to have fraudulently dispatched an entire on-duty police force to a residence. This practice, called “swatting,” involves using 911 emergency services to fraudulently dispatch law enforcement, and particularly Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) squads, based on what have been falsely represented to be emergencies.
Stepho is alleged to have threatened a resident of The Colony, Texas, with “swatting” unless the resident paid Stepho for a pair of fraudulent Xbox Gamertags. When the resident failed to do so, Stepho is alleged to have disguised his Caller ID to make it appear that he was placing a call from inside the residence in The Colony, Texas, contacted 911, and falsely claimed that two intruders had entered the residence. As a result, The Colony’s entire on-duty police force responded to what it believed was an emergency.
If convicted, Stepho faces up to two years in federal prison.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shamoil T. Shipchandler.
An indictment is not evidence of guilt and all defendants are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.