BitGo engineer Jameson Lopp, well-known for his critical stance on bitcoin forks, recently took it to Twitter to call out an “anonymous coward” who sent “dozens of cops with rifles” to his house. The event was caused by, presumably, a bitcoin troll, who called 911 reporting a fake hostage situation.
Dear anonymous coward who just sent dozens of cops w/ rifles to my house w/a false hostage situation report: I am not so easily intimidated.
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) October 16, 2017
What specifically sparked the report is unknown, but it led a police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to Jameson Lopp’s house. This is a well-known act associated with online harassment campaigns, known as “swatting”. Due to the disruption caused, and the way the act wastes the time and resources of emergency services, swatting has been described by some as terrorism.
In response to Lopp’s tweet, the community took his side and some well-known figures, including Bitcoin Foundation’s executive director Bruce Fenton, voiced their concerns. Swatting can be extremely dangerous, as police expect to find a horrible situation when they arrive at the person’s house.
Here’s a video of a gamer getting swatted:
Humorously, Lopp then explained that he had to tell police officers what bitcoin was, to help them understand why the fake call was made in the first place. Lopp answered a few comments explaining that no one got hurt and that local police are now aware of his situation, which could help prevent future swatting attacks on his home.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Lopp revealed a few more details on the situation. He added that most of his neighborhood was shut down and that there were “dozens of patrol units, a SWAT team, mobile command post, a fire truck, and paramedics” on the scene. All of it amounted to a huge waste of public resources that merely needed to assess whether he was holding his family hostage, as the 911 caller told the dispatcher.
Jameson Lopp believes that the attack could’ve been caused by his arguments in bitcoin’s scaling debate, as although none of his comments are extreme, he has made enemies over the years. In some cases, per his own words, people think he’s “some kind of manipulative monster”. The attacker, however, needs referencing his public debates, so he believes extortion might also be a possible cause.
Notably, Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver has in the past been the victim of extortion attempts. In one, a user using the Skype handle “kfhgfbvdfgbvcxfgbvgfffdvsc” threatened to send a SWAT team to his mother’s house and demanded 20 BTC not to do so. The 20 BTC, now worth about $111,000 according to Cryptocompare, is still up for grabs as a bounty to help find the criminal.