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Winston-Salem hacker who made phony threats gets eight-year prison sentence
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Winston-Salem hacker who made phony threats gets eight-year prison sentence

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A Winston-Salem hacker who made dozens of phony bombing and shooting threats to schools in the United States and the United Kingdom was sentenced Monday to federal prison by a California judge.

The U.S. attorney's office for the Central District of California said Timothy Dalton Vaughn, 22, of Winston-Salem, also made a false hijacking report about a California-bound jetliner.

Vaughn was sentenced Monday to nearly eight years in prison for conspiracy, hacking and possession of hundreds of child pornography photos and videos.

He pleaded guilty to federal charges last fall after his arrest in February 2019.

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Vaughn, who used online handles that included "WantedByFeds" and "Hacker_R_US" was a member of a group that called itself the “Apophis Squad,” which prosecutors described as a worldwide hacker collective that sent threatening phone calls and email reports of violent school attacks.

Vaughn and others sent emails to at least 86 school districts that threatened attacks, including “the imminent detonation of a bomb made with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, rocket-propelled grenade heads placed under school buses, and the placement of land mines on sports fields," according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office for the Central District of California.

Authorities also said that in 2018, Vaughn disabled the website of a Long Beach company with a denial-of-service attack after the firm refused to pay him to prevent such attacks.

Vaughn bragged in an online forum that Apophis Squad had targeted more than 2,000 schools in the United States and more than 400 in the U.K., according to the indictment, which detailed threats about imminent shootings and bombs being sent to school districts across Southern and Central California.

The Apophis Squad also took credit for hacking and defacing the website of a university in Colombia so visitors to the site saw a picture of Adolf Hitler holding a sign reading "YOU ARE HACKED." alongside the message "Hacked by APOPHIS SQUAD."

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@wyoungWSJ

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