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Feds allege two men hacked Ring cameras to livestream swattings

Ring cameras are common on homes today, so much so that folks are finding ways to view them and cause mayhem. The Feds have taken note.

ring cameras

The Ring camera for your home or business is meant to be a measure of safety, not a terror show broadcasted to millions. This month, two people from different parts of the country were indicted for hacking into Ring video doorbells, swatting the residents (a fake call to law enforcement that results in a SWAT team showing up to an innocent person’s home) and streaming the events to social media.

Let’s break this terrible form of “entertainment” down because it is a lot, and it is terrifying.

James McCarthy from South Carolina and Kya Nelson from Wisconsin have been indicted for streaming swatting events online, according to the United States Department of Justice in California.

McCarty who had been in Arizona at the time of the crimes was charged with one count of conspiracy to intentionally access computers without authorization. Nelson was charged with two counts of intentionally accessing a computer without authorization, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. These are all federal charges.

So how did they pull this off? The pair would allegedly gain access to individuals’ Yahoo accounts via stolen usernames and passwords. They would then search through emails to see who had Ring cameras and access it remotely through the individuals’ email.

They would then swat the home. Swatting is to intentionally make a false claim of a crime happening at a home in order to have it raided by the local police, particularly allegations that require a SWAT team to show up armed.

The unsuspecting and innocent individuals would then be subjected to armed police measures while they investigate the call.

The whole time this is happening, the feds allege that McCarty and Nelson were live streaming this to social media via the victims’ Ring cameras. Thousands watched, unaware of the victims’ innocence of any crime, and apparently the pair taunted the police during the event.

The Justice Department stated that the indictment is for several similar swattings in “Flat Rock, Michigan; Redding, California; Billings, Montana; Decatur, Georgia; Chesapeake, Virginia; Rosenberg, Texas; Oxnard, California; Darien, Illinois; Huntsville, Alabama; North Port, Florida; and Katy, Texas.”

If found guilty, they would both potentially serve up to 5 years in federal prison.

A native New Englander who migrated to Austin on a whim, Stephanie Dominique is a freelance copywriter, novelist, and certificate enthusiast. When she's not getting howled at by two dachshunds or inhaling enough sugar to put a giant into shock, she is reading, cooking or writing about her passions.


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