LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – One of two hackers wanted for making fake threats against Los Angeles International Airport and several Southern California school districts – along with conducting cyberattacks against several companies – was arrested Tuesday.
Timothy Dalton Vaughn, 20, of Winston-Salem, N.C., was taken into custody by FBI agents in North Carolina on multiple federal counts including making threats to injure in interstate commerce, making interstate threats involving explosives and conspiracy.
The other man listed in the indictment — 19-year-old George Duke-Cohan of Hertfordshire, England — is currently serving a prison sentence in England for a hoax threat against a commercial jet, according to the Justice Department.
The two men were part of a worldwide hacking collective known as Apophis Squad, federal prosecutors said, which conducted cyberattacks and swatting in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
The Justice Department reports that the crimes listed in the indictment occurred during the first eight months of 2018. The fake bomb and school shooting threats forced “the closure of hundreds of schools on two continents on multiple occasions,” the indictment reads.
According to the indictment, on April 8, 2018, the two suspects sent out the following threat to school districts in El Segundo, Mission Viejo, Tustin, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Redlands, Jurupa Valley, Riverside, Chino and Lompoc:
“Hello, you made a choice to not listen to us. I got bulled at this school and you did nothing. Now you will understand the true meaning of pain. I am coming into school with 3 bombs and a .22 hand gun. If I see any staff or student, I will shoot them and kill them. When I run out of bullets, I will slit there (sic) throats and watch them bleed out on the floor. If I see any police at the school I will blowup (sic) the bombs.”
On April 12, May 7 and June 26, similar bomb threats were sent out to school districts in L.A., Orange, Santa Barbara and Riverside counties. It’s unclear how exactly the threats were transmitted.
Vaughn bragged in an online forum that Apophis Squad targeted more than 2,000 schools in the U.S. and another 400 in the U.K., prosecutors said.
If convicted, Vaughn faces a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison.