Neighbours told of their shock at the FBI-led arrest of a Southport teenager following cyber attacks on Sony PlayStation and Xbox systems last year.
The 18-year-old was taken into custody this morning on suspicion of unauthorised access to computer material. He was also detained for alleged unauthorised access with intent to commit further offences and threats to kill, the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) said.
Neighbours in Boundary Street, a quiet residential road where the teenager lived with his family, told how they saw police cars and a van descend on the small semi-detached house.
One told the Visiter that the teenager was “very quiet” and “stayed in his bedroom”.
She said: “He is very quiet young man. I don’t know him very well – he stayed in his bedroom a lot.
“I haven’t seen the family yet but I imagine it will be a big shock.
“His mum is really lovely.
“He was a student but I don’t know if he still is.”
Another resident said: “He is very quiet. I’d see him coming in and out of the house but he didn’t really say a word.
“I saw a few police cars and a van outside the house this morning as I was going to work.
“It didn’t look like they raided the house, it looked like they were let in.”
She added: “I just say hello to them on the way out of the house. I don’t have a lot to do with them. There’s a young girl and a boy who live there.”
There was noone at the home this afternoon.
Christmas day hacks left millions of PlayStation and Xbox users unable to get online. It is not clear whether the arrest is directly related to that attack – though police described it as ‘significant’.
Investigators, supported by the National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), related to an operation investigating the ‘denial of service attack’ of Sony Playstation and Xbox systems in late December 2014 and ‘swatting’ offences.
A ‘swatting’ offence occurs when law enforcement forces in the United States receive hoax calls via Skype for a major incident in which SWAT teams are dispatched.
The teenager was arrested on suspicion of unauthorised access to computer material contrary to section 1 of Computer Misuse Act 1990, unauthorised access with intent to commit further offences contrary to section 2 of Computer Misuse Act 1990 and threats to kill.
Officers from the Cyber Crime Unit were supported by members of the Titan ROCU (North West Regional Organised Crime Unit). A number of electronic and digital devices were seized.
Craig Jones, head of the Cyber Crime Unit at SEROCU, said: “We are still at the early stages of the investigation and there is still much work to be done.
“We will continue to work closely with the FBI to identify those who commit offences and hold them to account.
“Offences referred to as ‘swatting’ involve law enforcement forces in the United States receiving hoax calls via Skype for a major incident in which Swat teams were dispatched.
“We are pursuing cyber criminals using the latest technology and working with businesses and academia to further develop specialist investigative capabilities to protect and reduce the risk to the public.
“Cyber crime is an issue which has no boundaries and affects people on a local, regional and global level.”
Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, the national policing lead for cyber security at the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said it was a “significant” arrest.
He said: “This arrest demonstrates that we will pursue those who commit crime with the false perception they are protected within their own homes or hiding behind anonymous online personas.
“As we continue to build capability and develop skills across wider policing, we still need industry, communities and individuals to protect themselves by implementing basic security measures whilst taking full advantage and enjoyment of the opportunities the world wide web provides.”