NEW YORK (WSMV) - A Smyrna man has been arrested on federal cyberstalking and computer fraud charges in New York.
Tristan Rowe, 19, was arrested after a years-long campaign of cyberstalking, harassment and computer intrusions against multiple New York City residents and a high school, according to Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department.
“As alleged, Tristan Rowe terrorized a victim from hundreds of miles away by ‘swatting’ – having police responded to a purported emergency at the victim’s residence. Tow also alleged sent disturbing text messages to the victim, threatening to buy an assault rifle, to kill the victim, and to bomb the victim’s school. Thanks to the NYPD, Rowe is now in custody and facing serious criminal charges,” Berman said in a news release.
“These allegations are a reminder of threats posted by malicious cyber activity. I commend our NYPD investigators, and federal partners, for remaining vigilant in collaborating to thwart Internet-facilitated crime,” said Shea in a news release.
According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court:
From 2015 through 2019, Rowe engaged in a persistent online stalking and harassment campaign that targeted a particular victim (referred to as “Victim-2” in the Complaint), and involved illegally accessing online accounts belonging to Victim-2 and friends and family members of Victim-2, and obtaining unauthorized access to the computer systems of Victim-2’s former high school.
Among other things, Rowe sent threatening text messages to Victim-2, including a text message containing a photograph of a large kitchen knife and text messages that stated, in sum and substance, “You don’t deserve to live.” Rowe also sent Victim-2 a map with a detailed route mapped out from Tennessee to Victim-2’s home address in the Bronx, NY.
Rowe also subjected Victim-2 and friends and family members of Victim-2 to multiple “swatting” incidents at their homes. “Swatting” refers to a harassment tactic of deceiving an emergency service into sending a police or emergency service response team to another person’s address. As a result, on multiple occasions, armed police officers responded to false reports of emergency situations at Victim-2’s home. Rowe sent text messages to Victim-2 referencing this harassment, including messages reading, in sum and substance, “u wanna get swatted,” “even better I’ll swat the nypd,” and recognized the safety risks posed by swatting, warning Victim-2 that “your choice u can wind up dead cause the armoured cops will come raid u.”
As part of this harassment campaign, Rowe also compromised the grading system and online educational platform used by Victim-2’s high school. A search of Rowe’s computer, conducted pursuant to a judicially authorized search warrant, revealed that Rowe possessed student grading information taken from Victim-2’s high school, as well as hundreds of usernames and passwords associated with the high school.
In addition, Rowe conducted a number of computer intrusions of government and private sector websites. Evidence obtained from Rowe’s computer indicated that he had launched, or was planning to launch, unauthorized intrusions of various websites, including an inmate tracking website used by federal and local law enforcement, a website for a state Department of Motor Vehicles, a police department website, and the website for a hospital in the Bronx, NY.
Rowe was arrested by U.S. Marshals and is being held in the Warren County Regional Jail in Bowling Green, KY, while awaiting transport to New York.