18 year old arrested after he allegedly made bomb threats to schools across the world
The French police on Monday arrested an 18-year-old teenager in connection with bomb threats
made to schools across the US, Europe, Asia and Australia.
Vincent Lauton was arrested after local threats prompted them to track his IP address, local media reported. He is also being questioned about messages that affected UK and Australian schools, the Daily Mail has since reported.
Described by French police as ‘a sophisticated computer operative’ who is “known for previous acts of piracy”, Lauton is linked to the ‘Evacuators 2K16’ bomb hoaxers, who called on children to Tweet if they want their school shut down.
Lauton is being held by French police and questioned over his alleged connection to a dark web operation that takes requests for bomb threats that can be made to schools or businesses.
A source close to the current investigation told the Daily Mail, “He is known as a brilliant computer operative. He can get into pretty much any system, and is a master of the dark web.” Lauton was ‘so well respected’ as a hacker that detectives sometimes turned to him for advice.
In the last few weeks, dozens of schools have received the same automated phone message warning of an explosive device on school grounds, after which the schools have had to be evacuated. Two weeks ago, three schools in Birmingham were evacuated following hoax calls.
Seven days later, six schools in Birmingham were threatened, along with four in London and Cornwall respectively. The same day, pupils and teachers were also told to evacuate five schools in Paris and Lyon. There were similar threats against educational establishments in Amsterdam, Tokyo and Sydney.
In all of the above cases, no explosive devices was found.
A MailOnline investigation found Lauton, who was believed to be studying at Burgundy University, was the administrator of the darkness.su domain – behind which the hoaxers are hiding.
The dark web exists on overlay networks that require specialist software and authorisation to access it.
The domain allows shadowy organisations to operate anonymously and with impunity on the dark web by hiding their IP addresses.
Its content – much of it highly offensive and potentially dangerous – is not indexed by mainstream search engines, and locating its source can baffle even the most technologically advanced specialist police units.
And Lauton’s darkness.su site was the perfect place for ‘Evacuators 2K16′ to set up shop.
Apparently, the group accepts payments in bitcoins for sending automated bomb threats to schools, sporting events, businesses, and courthouses.
According to a message from the group that appears to be from before March 2015, threats against individual schools can be ordered for $US5 worth of bitcoin, rising to $50 for a major’ sporting event.
The group also appears to have solicited requests for threat targets on Twitter, with account @Ev4cuati0nSquad (since suspended) tweeting: “Want to get out of a school for a day? Want to divert the police away from a crime you’re going to commit? Email us.”
In the meantime, a man named William, claiming to be Lauton’s brother, expressed disbelief over the arrest.
“I can’t believe that the police would frame this on him. I think it’s disgraceful,” he wrote on Facebook.
“All I can do for now is hope that they will release him quickly but apart from the story being covered by all news companies in the country and other charges being brought up and blamed on him, I sincerely doubt that having any hope at all at this stage is pointless.”
He stated: “I am almost sure he will end up in jail without a chance to ever live a normal life again.”
His astonished father Daniel Lauton, a 67-year-old engineer businessman, said: “He’s not a criminal – he’s not the kind of person who puts bombs in schools.
“He’s a teenager like any other – a little angry maybe, but not a criminal. When the police arrived they went straight to my son’s room, where they said he had been threatening people. I was very surprised.”
Confirming Lauton’s arrest, a Paris police source said he was being ‘questioned at length’. He confirmed that the investigation was an anti-terrorist one, but could not supply further details ‘for operational reasons’.
No other suspects had yet been located or arrested in connection with the bomb threats, the source added.