JCC Bomb Hoax Suspect Sold Threat-making Services for $30, U.S. Says

Authorities say suspect made 245 threatening calls; link him to illicit online Dark Net marketplace a 'School Email Bomb Threat Service,' unsealed court docs show

The JCC bomb threat suspect in court, March, 2017.
Tomer Appelbaum

U.S. authorities say an American-Israeli Jew charged with threatening to bomb Jewish community centers and schools across the United States had offered to sell his threat-making services through an online black market.

Recently unsealed court documents link the 18-year-old suspect to a posting on the now-shuttered illicit marketplace AlphaBay advertising a "School Email Bomb Threat Service." The poster offered to send customized threats to schools for $30, plus a surcharge if the buyer sought to have someone framed.

Authorities say he made 245 threatening calls, mostly to community centers and schools, from January to March, using an online calling service that disguised his voice and allowed him to hide his identity. The threats led to evacuations, sent a chill through Jewish communities and raised fears of rising anti-Semitism.

He was arrested in March in Israel and has been charged in federal court in Orlando, Florida, with 28 counts of making threatening calls and conveying false information to police.

Separately, he was charged with three more counts of making threatening calls, conveying false information and cyberstalking in an indictment filed in federal court in Athens, Georgia. In documents unsealed last month, investigators seek permission to search several AlphaBay accounts they believe were being operated by him.

American and European law enforcement officials announced last month they had shuttered AlpaBay, which they called the world's leading "darknet" marketplace that traded in illegal drugs, firearms and counterfeit goods.

It wasn't clear whether the suspect had customers on AlphaBay, but he received positive reviews from other users, according to the court documents.