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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Massachusetts Man Sentenced For Making Hoax Emergency Services Calls To Elicit Swat Team Response

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BOSTON – An Athol, Mass., man was sentenced today for engaging in an illegal practice known as “swatting,” in which he made hoax emergency telephone calls and falsely reported an ongoing, dangerous crime in order to elicit an armed police response (from a SWAT team) to a specific location, typically in order to harass someone he believed was there.

Nathan Hanshaw, 22, was sentenced to 30 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Hillman as agreed upon in the plea agreement. In August 2013, Hanshaw pleaded guilty to a three-count information charging him with making interstate threats, threats to use explosives, and threats to use a firearm.

Hanshaw, in his swatting calls, typically claimed that he was a fugitive who was wanted by the authorities, was armed with weapons, explosives, and nerve agents, and that he had taken hostages. He demanded cash and a helicopter ride to Mexico and threatened to detonate his bombs and kill his hostages if his demands were not met. He also threatened to kill any law enforcement personnel who arrived at the location. Hanshaw generally claimed to be calling from an address that, unbeknownst to the law enforcement officers responding to the call, was the address of his intended swatting victim

From September 2012 through mid-January 2013, Hanshaw made swatting calls to emergency services numbers across the United States, including Denver, Colorado; Ventura, California; and Waverly, New York. In each case, armed police responses ensued. In response to Hanshaw’s swatting call to Ventura, California, for example, more than 40 local and federal officers arrived at the purported crime scene, a hotel was evacuated, and nearby streets were closed for several hours. His “swatting” activities created a serious risk of physical harm to innocent victims and caused extensive disruptions to important public services.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythli Raman and United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz made the announcement today. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with significant assistance from the Massachusetts State Police and the Ventura Country Sherriff’s Department. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Criminal Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Bookbinder in Ortiz’s Computer Crimes Unit.

Updated December 15, 2014