The FBI arrested one of the two defendants charged in a federal indictment on February 12, 2019. The other defendant was arrested in August 2018 and is already serving a three-year prison sentence.
The two defendants are from a hacker group named Apophis Squad and are charged in an indictment with making false threats to schools and other institutions and launching Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on websites.
The United States Department of Justice described Apophis Squad as “a worldwide collective of computer hackers and swatters intent on using the internet to cause chaos.”
The indictment claims that Apophis Squad conducted cyber and swatting attacks against individuals, businesses, and institutions in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
Hackers from Apophis Squad made bombs threats and school shootings that were “designed to cause fear of imminent danger and did cause the closure of hundreds of schools on two continents on multiple occasions,” the press release read.
It is to be noted that Apophis Squad is responsible for defacing the website of a University in Columbia which resulted in the website displaying a picture of Adolf Hitler holding a sign saying ‘YOU ARE HACKED’ along with the message ‘Hacked by APOPHIS SQUAD’.
The two defendants
The first defendant who is currently serving a three-year sentence in prison is George Duke-Cohan, 19, of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom. Duke-Cohan is also known as ‘optcz1’, ‘DigitalCrimes’, and ‘7R1D3N7’.
The second defendant who was arrested by the FBI recently is Timothy Dalton Vaughn, 20, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Vaughn also goes under the names such as ‘WantedbyFeds’, and ‘Hacker_R_US’.
Vaughn was accused of conducting a DDoS attack that took down the website of a Long Beach motorsport company ‘hoonigan.com’, for three days, and sent extortionate emails to the company demanding a ransom payment in Bitcoin to terminate the attack.
The 11-count indictment charged the two defendants George Duke-Cohan and Timothy Dalton Vaughn from Apophis Squad with making false threats of violent attacks against many institutions including numerous Southern California school districts and Los Angeles International Airport.
“The 11-count indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on February 8 and unsealed today, charges Vaughn and Duke-Cohan with conspiracy and eight additional felony offenses, including making threats to injure in interstate commerce and making interstate threats involving explosives,” the press release read.
The DOJ noted that if Vaughn is found guilty of all 11 charges, then he would face a maximum sentence of 80 years in prison. While Duke-Cohan would face a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison.