Anchorage video gamer faces charges for hoax bomb threats against Lafayette College

Steve Tawa
December 19, 2018 - 2:53 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Federal authorities have officially charged a man in Alaska for making bomb threats against Lafayette College — over a video game dispute. 

A 20-year old man in Anchorage allegedly posted several false and threatening tweets in the name of ISIS, according to the complaint and warrant, detailing the presence of several bombs around the Easton college campus, hoping to "inflict the utmost damage possible."

The affidavit says Gavin Casdorph told FBI agents he made the threats after several people were playing an online game called "Counter-Strike" on May 5, the day of the threats. One of them got into an argument online with another internet user on Discord, a voice and texting application used by gamers.

Court documents indicate one of them blamed another, who uses the screen name "Neuroscientist" — a user was known for "doxing" people, or publicly exposing someone's real name or address on the internet. 

Casdorph said that Neuroscientist asked him to send in an anonymous threat to Lafayette. One of the other gamers involved in the chatter is a student at Lafayette. 
Another gamer told agents that Casdorph was "involved in swatting," or making hoax calls about fake crimes. 

According to the affidavit, investigators traced a phone number to a Russian web service that sells numbers to users who are able to open social media or email accounts anonymously. Agents say Casdorph used the Twitter handle "BdanJafarSaleem."

U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain said the incident is not a "game, and threats like these are no joke."

"Mr. Casdorph concluded his FBI interview by boasting that it would not have been easy for law enforcement to prove that he was involved in this, unless he admitted it," he added.

McSwain held a briefing on campus along with Lafayette College President Alison Byerly and Steven McQueen, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI Philadelphia Division.

Law enforcement agencies quickly determined that there were no bombs on campus, but the hoax caused a tremendous amount of disruption and anxiety. For those who consider similar "stunts," McSwain countered with a warning.

'You are not smarter than us. Whether these sort of threats are made on social media, scrawled on a bathroom wall, or shared in a conversation among students, we will find out about it and treat everyone of these threats seriously," he said.

While the campus was on edge, Lafayette moved the location of its graduation ceremonies as a precaution.

Casdorph's initial court appearance was in Anchorage. He'll be transported to Philadelphia in the near future, and McSwain's office will prosecute the case. 

If convicted on the charge of making false threats, Casdorph faces a maximum possible 10-year prison sentence.