A teenager from London has been sentenced after conducting an online campaign of stalking and harassment against female internet users.
The 17-year-old, who cannot be named, was part of an online community that frequently worked together to ‘dox’ - or reveal the real-world identities - of other users.
His harassment of two females became so intense that it led to him being charged with stalking them.
The National Crime Agency identified him in early 2021, after he made fraudulent emergency requests for details of a girl living in the US to social media companies.
He had illegally gained access to the email accounts of Brazilian government officials in order to make the requests and obtain her personal information.
He spent time gathering her information and published it online, telling her he would only take it down if she sent him a sexual photo. When she refused, he worked with others to make several false reports of shootings at her address – also known as ‘swatting’ – causing local police officers to attend.
He went on to make further disclosure requests to social media and technology companies, in order to dig into the personal lives of online rivals and girls he was at school with.
The teen was arrested by the NCA at his home in east London in February 2021, still aged 14, at which point officers seized a number of his electronic devices.
He was released on bail with conditions, but continued to offend, again illegally using the email accounts of overseas government officials, this time from Gibraltar and Argentina, to target a female Youtuber.
After successfully making a number of requests for her personal information, he went on to spread defamatory misinformation about her, which he later claimed was an attempt to get her fired.
The campaign against this girl continued with him creating a false arrest warrant for her, which he shared with her contacts using a fraudulent Discord account set up in the name of one of the government officials.
He worked with others to spam her Twitch (livestreaming) feed with insults and her personal information and, just before he was arrested again by the NCA in May 2021, he sent a package containing faeces to her home.
When he was interviewed by NCA officers, he claimed to have founded an illegal online hacking group, the name of which was found on the package.
Forensic examination of his devices showed that he had control over the Discord, Telegram and government accounts involved in the offending. He had also saved chat logs and videos, which showed his malicious intent towards his targets and the distress they expressed in response.
He was charged and later pleaded guilty to sixteen offences, including eleven counts of fraud by false representation and two counts of stalking involving serious alarm/distress.
The teenager was also subsequently investigated by City of London Police for a hacking spree targeting a number of global organisations, including telecoms, a computer parts manufacturer and gaming companies, between 2021 and 2022.
This case led to him being found guilty of further fraud offences, as well as blackmail and Computer Misuse Act offences.
He was sentenced yesterday [21 December] at Guildford Crown Court to a youth rehabilitation order with 18 months intensive supervision and surveillance.
On sentencing him, the judge described the NCA case as dealing with “serious crimes targeting individuals in a deeply unpleasant and frightening pattern of stalking and harassment”.
Jamie Horncastle, from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said:
“This is a technically skilled teenager who chose to use those talents to break the law over and over again, bringing fear and distress to the young girls he targeted.
“This case is a prime example of online offending, which in many young people’s minds may appear as harmless fun, but has significant and damaging real world consequences.
“He now, rightly so, has a criminal record which will serious impact his future.
“The Cyber Choices programme, coordinated by the NCA, works to prevent young people from crossing the line into breaking the law online. It aims to educate young people on what constitutes as illegal cyber activity, and guides them into using their skills in a legal and productive way.”
23 December 2023