Written byChris Bing
Two teenagers allegedly connected to an infamous hacking group known as Lizard Squad have been charged with operating “cyber-attack-for-hire” websites, federal authorities announced Wednesday.
The charges are among the first levied against an alleged U.S.-based member of Lizard Squad. The group rose to prominence after DDoSing Playstation and Xbox’s online gaming networks in 2014. They also hacked into Taylor Swift’s Twitter account and attempted to extort the pop singer in January 2015.
According to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, Zachary Buchta, of Fallston, Md., and Bradley Jan Willem Van Rooy, of the Netherlands, ran an online business that sold hacking services and stolen payment card account information. They face charges of conspiring to cause damage to protected computers.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The duo were also allegedly involved in numerous swatting schemes — in which a false police report is filed, such as a murder or bomb threat, in the hopes of provoking a police raid on an individual’s home or business. Caller ID “spoofing” is typically employed by individuals to hide their phone number during a swatting call.
One of Buchta and Rooy’s victims, a resident of the Chicago area, reportedly received expletive-laden phone calls every hour for 30 straight days. The victim was targeted through services rendered by phoneBomber.net, another property owned and operated by the two suspects.
In 2015, supposed Lizard Squad member, 18 year old Julius Kivimaki of Finland, was also convicted and sentenced to two years in jail.
The Finnish teen was eventually given a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to fight cybercrime, local newspaper Kaleva first reported. He was charged with conducting data breaches, felony payment fraud schemes and similar telecommunication harassments.
CyberScoop has reached out to the Chicago FBI field office and will update this story with further details if they are made available.