July 29, 2014

Man Faces Five Years in Federal Prison in ‘Swatting’ Case

DALLAS—Jason Allen Neff, 33, pleaded guilty today to federal charges in a “swatting” case, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. Swatting refers to falsely reporting an emergency to a police department to cause a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) response to a physical address, or making a false report to elicit an emergency response by other first responders to a specific physical address.

Neff, also known as “Crazy J,” is from Omaha, Nebraska, although he was living in Jackson, Missouri when he was arrested. Neff pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the conspiracy to use access devices to modify telecommunications instruments and to make unauthorized access to protected telecommunications computers and one count of obstruction by retaliating against a witness, victim or informant. If the Court accepts the terms of the plea agreement, the parties have agreed that a specific sentence of 60 months in federal prison is the appropriate sentence for the obstruction conviction, and it should run concurrently to any sentence imposed for the other count of conviction. Neff, who remains in custody, is scheduled to be sentenced on December 1, 2014, by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay.

According to documents filed in the case, Neff, along with previously charged and convicted co-conspirators Guadalupe Martinez, Stuart Rosoff, Jason Trowbridge, Chad Ward, Matthew Weigman, Angela Roberson and others (Martinez sentenced in March 2008 to 30 months; Rosoff sentenced in May 2008 to 60 months; Trowbridge sentenced in May 2008 to 60 months; Ward sentenced in May 2008 to 60 months; Weigman sentenced in June 2009 to 135 months; and Roberson sentenced in July 2008 to 30 months) were members of, and participated in, telephone chat/party lines in which they made, or facilitated the making of, swatting 911 calls. They concealed the true caller ID and made false reports of violent crimes to elicit a police SWAT response to the targeted members of the telephone chat/party line, their family members, and associated persons.

Neff participated in multiple telephone party line chat groups (party lines) that conspirators and thousands of other callers frequented. Participants in these party lines generally used pseudonyms or nicknames to protect their identities, and they would often be rude and obnoxious to antagonize other party line participants, other conspirators and their families.

Neff, along with Martinez, Rosoff and Weigman, according to the indictment, were “phone phreakers,” using social engineering or subterfuge to acquire sensitive information from telephone service providers. That sensitive information enabled them to exploit telephone network computer service by obtaining subscriber information; altering billing information and service plans; redirecting, changing service charges, and discontinuing telephone service; monitoring or taping telephone lines; and obtaining telephone company security policies and procedures.

In May 2006, Neff obtained publicly available voter information about another party line member and provided it to co-conspirator Roberson so she could repeat the information in the party line. Neff knew the information could be used for harassment.

A few days later, Neff obtained identifying information about another party line member with whom co-conspirator Roberson was upset. Neff listened in on a three-way phone call made from a private room on the party line where co-conspirator Rosoff used information that Roberson provided in order to social engineer an SBC employee and obtain the caller’s current phone number and address. That information was verified and used to prompt a neighbor of the caller to respond to a false request for assistance.

In January 2007, Neff confronted a party line member, “SP,” about her providing misleading and inaccurate information to the FBI regarding his ownership of a party-line related website, which he did not own, and his being a member of the group that had previously swatted her. Neff threatened her on the party line, stating, “snitches get stitches.” Neff made the threats to intimidate SP and to retaliate against her for providing information about him to the FBI.

The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney C.S. Heath is in charge of the prosecution.