Tennessee Man Arrested For Engaging In Multi-Year Cyberstalking And Computer Hacking Campaign
Online Harassment Campaign Involved Multiple “Swatting” Incidents in which False Requests Triggered Armed Law Enforcement Responses to a Victim’s Residence
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Dermot Shea, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the arrest of TRISTAN ROWE, a/k/a “Angus,” for engaging in a years-long campaign of cyberstalking, harassment, and computer intrusions against multiple New York City residents and a high school. ROWE was arrested today in Tennessee and presented before a United States Magistrate Judge in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Tristan Rowe terrorized a victim from hundreds of miles away by ‘swatting’ – having police respond to a purported emergency at the victim’s residence. Rowe also allegedly sent disturbing text messages to the victim, threatening to buy an assault rifle, to kill the victim, and to bomb the victim’s school. Thanks to the NYPD, Rowe is now in custody and facing serious criminal charges.”
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said: “These allegations are a reminder of the threats posed by malicious cyber activity. I commend our NYPD investigators, and federal partners, for remaining vigilant in collaborating to thwart Internet-facilitated crime.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed yesterday in Manhattan federal court:
From 2015 through 2019, ROWE engaged in a persistent online stalking and harassment campaign that targeted a particular victim (referred to as “Victim-2” in the Complaint), and involved illegally accessing online accounts belonging to Victim-2 and friends and family members of Victim-2, and obtaining unauthorized access to the computer systems of Victim-2’s former high school.
Among other things, ROWE sent threatening text messages to Victim-2, including a text message containing a photograph of a large kitchen knife and text messages that stated, in sum and substance, “You don’t deserve to live.” ROWE also sent Victim-2 a map with a detailed route mapped out from Tennessee to Victim-2’s home address in the Bronx, New York.
ROWE also subjected Victim-2 and friends and family members of Victim-2 to multiple “swatting” incidents at their homes. “Swatting” refers to a harassment tactic of deceiving an emergency service into sending a police or emergency service response team to another person’s address. As a result, on multiple occasions, armed police officers responded to false reports of emergency situations at Victim-2’s home. ROWE sent text messages to Victim-2 referencing this harassment, including messages reading, in sum and substance, “u wanna get swatted,” “even better I’ll swat the nypd,” and recognized the safety risks posed by swatting, warning Victim-2 that “your choice u can wind up dead cause the armoured cops will come raid u.”
As part of this harassment campaign, ROWE also compromised the grading system and online educational platform used by Victim-2’s high school. A search of ROWE’s computer, conducted pursuant to a judicially authorized search warrant, revealed that ROWE possessed student grading information taken from Victim-2’s high school, as well as hundreds of usernames and passwords associated with the high school.
In addition, ROWE conducted a number of computer intrusions of government and private sector websites. Evidence obtained from ROWE’s computer indicated that he had launched, or was planning to launch, unauthorized intrusions of various websites, including an inmate tracking website used by federal and local law enforcement, a website for a state Department of Motor Vehicles, a police department website, and the website for a hospital in the Bronx, New York.
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ROWE is charged with one count of cyberstalking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and one count of unauthorized access to a computer, which carries a maximum sentence of five years. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the NYPD in this case.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dina McLeod is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.