Mukilteo man held in alleged hacking incident
A Mukilteo man has been arrested on charges of hacking into a telephone network to trick 911 dispatchers in Southern California into sending...
Los Angeles Times
A Mukilteo man has been arrested on charges of hacking into a telephone network to trick 911 dispatchers in Southern California into sending a SWAT team to the home of a randomly selected Lake Forest, Calif., family, authorities announced Tuesday.
Randal T. Ellis, 19, allegedly impersonated a caller from the Lake Forest home shortly before midnight March 29, saying he had murdered someone in the house and threatened to shoot others.
Allegedly hacking into systems maintained by America Online and Verizon, Ellis used the couple's names, which he had confirmed earlier in a prank call to their home, authorities said.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department dispatched a SWAT team and surrounded the home with dozens of officers, dogs and a helicopter. As the two toddlers of Stacey Cerwin-Bates and Doug Bates slept inside, Doug Bates thought he heard a prowler rustling in the bushes outside and grabbed a kitchen knife.
When he entered the backyard, deputies armed with assault rifles confronted Bates and handcuffed him and his wife until officers were able to determine the report was fake.
Authorities spent more than six months tracking down Ellis before arresting him in Mukilteo last week. He was in the process of being extradited to California on Tuesday and was charged with "false imprisonment by violence" and "assault with an assault weapon by proxy." The crimes carry a possible prison sentence of 18 years.
Elizabeth Henderson, the assistant Orange County district attorney in charge of the economic-crimes unit, said Ellis' scheme was "fairly difficult to unravel."
In the end, the investigators said they discovered evidence that he committed the scam in at least three other states — Arizona, Washington and Pennsylvania — since 2005. That evidence has been passed to authorities in those states, but it is unclear if they will press charges.
Few details were released about Ellis' background or how he acquired his alleged computer expertise. A police source said he had a juvenile criminal record in Washington, but he has never been caught in a similar hacking scheme.
Neither Ellis nor the Bates family could be reached for comment.
Los Angeles Times researcher Scott Wilson contributed to this story.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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