“John Defanno” was actually a 15-year-old boy named Matthew Weigman — a fat, lonely blind kid who lived with his mom in a working-class neighborhood of East Boston. In person, Weigman was a shy and awkward teenager with a shaved head who spent his days holed up in his room, often talking for up to 20 hours a day on free telephone chat lines. On the phone, he became “Lil’ Hacker,” the most skilled member of a small band of telephone pranksters known as “phreaks.” To punish Danielle, who had pissed him off on a chat line, Weigman had phoned 911 and posed as a psycho, rigging his caller ID to make it look like the emergency call was coming from inside Danielle’s home. It’s a trick known as “swatting” — mobilizing SWAT teams to exact revenge on your enemies — and phreakers like Weigman have used it to trigger some 200 false raids in dozens of cities nationwide.
“When I was a kid, a prank was calling in a pizza to a neighbor’s house,” says Kevin Kolbye, an FBI assistant special agent in charge who has investigated the phreaks. “Today it’s this.”
There is some strong language in there, but otherwise well worth the read.