Georgetown man indicted for allegedly engineering hoaxes that led to SWAT team response

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A federal grand jury charged Rodney Phipps, 29, of Georgetown, with harassing individuals across the country by telephone via “swatting” hoax emergency calls in order to elicit an armed police response.

According to allegations in the Indictment, from in or around August 2015 through August 2017, Phipps placed swatting calls from Delaware to police departments and emergency dispatch centers across the country, including calls to Harrison, NJ; Opelousas, LA; Russel County, KY; Pasco County, KY; and Forsyth County, Georgia.

Swatting calls included false reports that murder, shooting incidents, arson, and a hostage situation had taken place or would take place.

Many of the calls also contained explicit threats that the caller would shoot any law enforcement personnel who responded to the emergency call. In several instances, those hoax calls provoked significant law enforcement responses to the victim’s residences.

The Indictment charges Phipps with five counts of making interstate threats and one count of making a false threat involving explosives. The interstate threat charges carry a five-year maximum term of imprisonment. The false threat involving explosives charge carries a ten-year maximum term of imprisonment

“As alleged, Mr. Phipps orchestrated an extensive, multi-faceted swatting campaign that caused a significant amount of angst, alarm, and unnecessary expenditure of limited law enforcement resources,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone, FBI Baltimore Field Office. “The FBI Baltimore Cyber Task Force, working jointly with the Delaware State Police – Troop 4, the Georgetown Delaware Police Department, and the Delaware United States Attorney’s Office hope this arrest will deter others from engaging in similar criminal conduct.”

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