Tennessee man tragically died last year after being targeted by someone who wanted his Twitter handle, @Tennessee. The assailant was sentenced today to five years in prison.
Mark Herring has received frequent offers over the years to sell the Twitter account, which he was able to get at the start of the service. But he rejected the offers. Someone decided to try and bully him into giving up instead, which resulted in his untimely death. Now that someone has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Swatting is never correct – In April 2020, members of the Herring family began receiving pizza deliveries they had not ordered, all in cash on delivery.
When this started to happen, they called Herring, but instead got his girlfriend, who said, “It’s not all right. I’m in the back of a cop car. I have to go. ”It turns out that police received a call with Herring’s number claiming he had killed a woman. Police arrived with guns in hand, and when they clashed with Herring under his porch, he had a fatal heart attack and passed away.
What happened is called “crushing”, a form of harassment that has become more and more common in recent years. The act is believed to have its origin in gambling, where frustrated gamers express their anger at their competitors by calling the police and making senseless claims that force them to react to a person’s home with excessive force. The goal is to provoke, frighten, or even injure a target, the latter being a very real possibility. When the police visit a house in the hope of finding an armed criminal, the situation is charged and law enforcement officers often make split decisions that can (and all too often do) end fatally.
The perpetrators are usually teenagers and young adults, and this case was no different. Police said two minors were involved, one who lives in Tennessee and has turned 18 since the incident, and another who is still a minor and lives in the UK.
Insufficient punishment – Tennessee individual Shawn Sonderman was sentenced to five years in prison today, but the judge said he would have handed down a harsher sentence if he could.
According to cybersecurity researcher Brian KrebsSonderman has a habit of running bullying campaigns targeting people with popular social media accounts, as the accounts can be sold for thousands of dollars. Among other things, the man staged a home invasion by arranging a date on behalf of a target “where the unsuspecting hookup received the target’s address and said to invite himself”. He also ran a group that used the SIM card exchange to steal people’s phone numbers and thus break into their online accounts.
The case of Mark Herring is far from the first crash that has become fatal. In 2019, a 19-year-old was sentenced to 15 months in prison after planning a 911 hoax that resulted in the death of a Kansas man. Swatters, as they are called, often believe that they can get away with using VPNs and VoIP services to hide their identity. But as these sentences show, using Skype is not enough to outsmart the authorities.