2015 BCPC 203

2015 BCPC 203 involved the online abuse tactics of “doxing”[1] and “swatting.”[2] The offender, 17-year-old Mr. B plead guilty to 23 of 48 counts of criminal misconduct including nine counts of criminal harassment, eight counts of mischief, four counts of extortion, one count of uttering a threat, and one count of breaching a recognizance. B used a variety of tactics to harass, threaten, and harm his victims, many of whom were female video gamers he encountered online. For example, he remotely interfered with his victims’ internet service, made fraudulent 9-1-1 calls to victims’ homes, and disclosed victims’ credit card information online.

B’s doxing efforts were sophisticated and involved corporate social engineering. In one instance, B posed as an Amazon employee and obtained a victim’s telephone number and address from Amazon’s technical support. He then phoned Rogers, pretending to be a Rogers employee, and used the victim’s phone number to request account information, including her address. He then dialed 9-1-1 and had an emergency dispatch team sent to her home to investigate a bomb threat.

Nearly all of B’s 23 victims were young women. As the Court notes, “Male victims were usually only selected because they were related to [B’s] female victims or in some way attempted to intervene on behalf of [his] female victims.”[3] B’s pre-sentencing report makes note of his misogynistic attitudes, and finds that his actions were primarily motivated by pleasure from his victim’s distress and prestige gained within an online peer group. B’s psychiatric report notes that his “[V]ictims are quite disproportionately female” and finds that “[I]t is possible that he has focused his behaviours on females as a way of reacting to his childhood experiences with his mother.”[4] The latter report finds no clear evidence of a sexual motivation underpinning B’s crimes, but does state that “some of his humiliation of female victims involves a sexual component” — such as, for example, asking one of his victims to send him pictures of her feet and toes.[5]

The Court ultimately sentenced B to 16-months imprisonment followed by 8 months of community supervision. Noting that B posed a high risk for future internet-based offences, the Court also imposed a full technology ban, authorizing a police officer to enter his residence at any time and search for computers or other internet-enabled devices.

[1] The Court defines “doxing” as “publishing on the internet identifiable personal information about an individual that has usually been obtained from social media sites and from hacking into private systems.” It notes that, depending on the information disclosed, victims of doxing may feel “distress, fear, embarrassment and shame” and may become the targets of identity theft, extortion, and fraud efforts: 2015 BCPC 203 at para 3.
[2] The Court defines “swatting” as “tricking an emergency service agency into dispatching an emergency response based on a false report of an ongoing critical incident.” The Court notes that swatting can lead to evacuations, bomb squad deployment, and other frightening assaults on a victim’s home: 2015 BCPC 203 at para 4.
[3] 2015 BCPC 203 at para 43.
[4] 2015 BCPC 203 at para 47.
[5] 2015 BCPC 203 at para 47.


Criminal Offence(s): Criminal Harassment