Computer Hacker Sentenced for E-Mailing Bomb Threat to Shopping Mall
PHILADELPHIA—David Barnhouse, 24, of Horsham, PA, was sentenced, on October 16, 2014, to 18 months in prison for hacking into his neighbor’s wireless router and using it to post a bomb threat on the website of the Willow Grove Park Mall. As a result of Barnhouse’s actions, the mall paid for increased security and the FBI, after tracing the threat to the neighbor’s router, executed a search warrant on the neighbor’s home. (The practice of making such false reports to bring police action against someone’s house is colloquially known as “swatting”—after the SWAT teams that law enforcement often uses to deal with such situations.)
On June 20, 2013, Barnhouse hacked into the Verizon FiOS router of his neighbor and, using their Internet service, posted the following message:
“We have planted an explosive device somewhere in the mall, and will detonate it unless all members of the Islamic faith imprisoned in the United States are freed by 7 p.m. on June 23. Even if you search the mall for 72 consecutive hours, you will NEVER find it.”
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge C. Darnell Jones, II ordered three years of supervised release and restitution to the mall for the costs of the increased security.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jeanine Linehan and Michael L. Levy.