A Delaware County man who considered himself a big deal in the online hacking community called in a bomb, gun and hostage threat to 911 in September because he wanted to up his status among hackers, according to police.
Police have charged Michael Adams Jr., 22, of Marple, with falsely reporting weapons of mass destruction, false alarms to an agency of public safety, recklessly endangering another person and related offenses for the Sept. 16 incident.
Around 2:50 p.m. that day, Marple Township Police, Delaware County investigators, the county's bomb squad and its SWAT team went to Carlton Drive near Central Boulevard in Marple in response to a caller who had stated that he was on the second floor of a house there and was being held hostage by a man with an AR-15 rifle who had an IED strapped to his chest.
When police learned the 75-year-old resident of the house in question was out of town, they deemed the incident unfounded they began questioning Adams, who lived next door, according to court documents.
Adams told police he was a member and moderator of several hacking and programming forums online and he's had problems with rival hackers who use the same sites he does calling his house and the Bon Aire Fire Department, where he is a member, authorities said. Adams even went so far as to say that he was the victim of constant harassment from the famous hacker group "Anonymous," according to police.
Adams allegedly speculated that he was a victim of "swatting" by a rival hacker but that the hacker must have been off by one house number when he called in his address to police. According to court documents, "swatting" is when hackers obtain the personal information of another hacker and use it to place fake 911 calls to their residence, thus eliciting a SWAT response.
After an intense investigation and a forensic examination of Adams' electronic devices, police uncovered information that indicated Adams may have been involved in as many as six different "swatting" incidents from California to Wisconsin, the last of which was the call in Marple Township, police said.
In Adams' arrest affidavit, one detective theorizes that Adams "felt that in order to be a true moderator, equal to his peers, he must be 'swatted' like some of them had been."