Two suspects were arrested after a Ring Doorbell was hacked nearly two years ago, leading police to surround a woman’s home thinking there was a hostage situation.
One of the victims of the 12 swatting incidents lives in North Port.
The two male suspects, just 18 and 19 years old at the time, got access to Ring Doorbells through compromised Yahoo email accounts.
Sarah Courtney, from North Port, told WINK News it’s terrifying knowing someone had total control over something meant to give her family peace of mind.
The events of that day, two years ago, are solidified in Courtney’s memory.
“Normally, when I would pull in the driveway, I would get a Ring notification on my phone. And I thought it was weird because I didn’t get one,” Courtney said.
Little did she know her Ring Doorbell was hacked, and she was being watched.
Minutes after getting home, she got a phone call from the police.
“They said that they were the North Port Police, and I needed to come out of my house,” Courtney said. “And I was like, ‘No way! I have no idea who you are or if you’re really the cops or, you know, anything like that’. And they’re like, ‘mam, your house is being surrounded by SWAT.’”
Courtney learned someone called the North Port Police Department, posing as her husband.
“That they were my husband, and they had come home, they found me having an affair, so they shot and killed my lover, and they were holding me hostage,” Courtney said.
Federal investigators said Kya Nelson from Wisconsin and James McCarty from North Carolina live streamed the dozen swatting incidents they’re responsible for on their social media accounts.
“At one point, the cop was like walking into our front door, and someone came over the Ring and started saying like derogatory things to the police officer. And that’s when they realized that they had been swatted,” Courtney said.
The racial and vulgar expletives captured in the video are too graphic to share.
“And so, the cop pulled the Ring off the wall or whatever,” Courtney said.
Courtney knows some swatting incidents turn deadly, and she’s thankful it didn’t get to that point during her ordeal.
“It’s not me that this just affected. Like there’s a school across the street from me with an elementary school, little kids, they were put on lockdown. My neighbors were terrified. I was terrified,” Courtney said. “My husband is in the middle of the state, losing his mind thinking something has happened to me.”
Courtney said she never thought she would have justice.
“I hope that for myself and the other people that this affected, I hope these guys really get the book thrown at them. I hope that they have to sit in prison for a long time because it was really wrong what they did,” Courtney said.
Nelson and McCarty are facing charges for 12 separate swatting incidents in at least eight states over the course of a week.
As for Courtney, she told WINK News she now uses two-factor authentication for everything she uses.
She didn’t before, and she now recommends it to everyone she knows to keep accounts safe.
Click here to see the DOJ report.