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Washington man gets jail time for nationwide ‘swatting’ scheme – NBC4 Washington

A Washington state man who made 20 false reports of bombs and shootings in the U.S. and Canada, prompting real emergency action, has been sentenced to three years in prison, U.S. authorities said.

Ashton Connor Garcia, 21, of Bremerton, was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington. Garcia pleaded guilty in January to two counts of extortion and two counts of threats and deception related to explosives.

As part of his plea deal, Garcia admitted that he intended the calls to prompt the deployment of SWAT teams, bombers and other law enforcement officers to the targeted locations.

Garcia used voice-over internet technology to conceal his identity when he made the so-called swatting calls and also broadcast them on a social media platform between June 2022 and March 2023, federal prosecutors said.

In two of the cases, he called in false bomb threats for the Fox News station in Cleveland and for a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles. In another case, he threatened to bomb a Los Angeles airport unless he received $200,000 in Bitcoin, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said he collected personal information about several victims and threatened to send emergency responders to their homes unless they handed over money, credit card information or sexually explicit images.

Law enforcement officers entered some homes with guns drawn and detained people, authorities said.

The plea agreement details 20 different false emergency reports targeting victims in California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington and Edmonton, Alberta, according to prosecutors.

Garcia’s arrest came amid a wave of threats and false reports about gunmen at schools and colleges across the country. Another wave of false reports, many targeting officials, occurred earlier this year and late last year.

Some swatting incidents have led to police shooting people, and officials also say they worry about diverting resources from real emergencies.

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