CBSN
crimesider

Cyber expert Parry Aftab's N.J. home targeted in hostage hoax

Parry Aftab, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR THE INTERNET SAFETY
CBS/The Early Show
Parry Aftab
CBS/The Early Show

(CBS/AP) NEWARK, N.J. - The home of Parry Aftab, a well-known Internet safety expert and lawyer, was swarmed Monday by New Jersey police and SWAT team members who responded to what proved to be a fake hostage report from an unknown male caller.

The caller, who authorities say was purposefully targeting Aftab, told police he was armed and had two hostages at Aftab's house in Wyckoff, a suburb about 15 miles west of New York City.

Police and SWAT units surrounded Aftab's home for about three hours Saturday and eventually shot in tear gas, but only found her cat inside.

Wyckoff police Chief Benjamin Fox said investigators believe the call was made using a computer. Fox said state and federal agencies including the FBI had offered assistance in tracing the call.

According to the Daily Mail, the hostage hoax came on the anniversary of last year's highly organized assault on Aftab by "4chan," an anonymous gang of Web bullies and hackers, who harassed the cyber expert with prank calls, by distributing her personal information and creating false online rumors.

The group had targeted Aftab after she appeared on Good Morning America to discuss the 2010 cyber-bullying of an 11-year-old Florida girl known as "Jessi Slaughter."

Aftab said Monday that some leads were being probed but declined to be specific, citing the ongoing investigation. She apologized to neighbors for the disruption and said she was working with investigators and Internet security experts to find the source of the call.

"There are a lot of people who hide behind a computer monitor and think it's going to get them attention, but this is going to get them the wrong kind of attention," she said. "This is not a harmless prank."

Chief Fox said the perpetrator could be charged with filing a false police report and possibly other charges that could lead to jail time.