A Fairfax County reporter was briefly detained Thursday evening before authorities determined that he was the victim of so-called "SWAT-ing."
Brian Krebs, who reports on cybercrime and cybersecurity, wrote on his personal website, KrebsonSecurity.com, that a 911 call to Fairfax County Police had been spoofed to appear as though it came from his cell phone. The unknown caller, who claimed to be Krebs, said that Russians had broken into his home and shot his wife. Krebs said that police told him that they had called the number back, but received no answer.
When police arrived, Krebs, who worked as a reporter for The Washington Post between 1995 and 2009, said he was vacuuming his house.
"I was instructed to face the house, back down my front steps and walk backwards into the adjoining parking area, after which point I was handcuffed and walked up to the top of the street," Krebs wrote on his website. He was released after confirming with officers that he had filed a police report in August 2012 after receiving non-specific threats of a denial of service attack.
Earlier Thursday, Krebs wrote that his website had been knocked offline briefly by a "fairly massive" denial of service attack. That same day, Krebs wrote that he had received a hoax letter claiming to be from the FBI, informing him that his site was hosting illegal content and profiting from cybercriminality.
"It’s difficult to believe the phony FBI letter ... the denial-of-service attack, and the SWATting were somehow the work of different individuals upset over something I’ve written," Krebs wrote in attempting to explain the situation. "The letter ... made no fewer than five references to a story I published earlier this week about sssdob.ru, a site advertised in the cybercrime underground that sells access to Social Security numbers and credit reports."
In recent months, authorities have received false reports of crimes occurring at the homes of celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber, and Clint Eastwood. Authorities don't like to publicly discuss such crimes, for fear that the publicity will encourage the behavior.
This story has been corrected from a previous version.