Fake email sparks potential swatting investigation in Putnam County

A fake email sent to political candidates in Putnam County sparked a potential swatting investigation. Investigators say a 15-year-old boy and his family were targeted by someone online in another state.


The email claimed a transgender person shot and killed their family, with a plan to shoot others. The made-up manifesto was sent to political candidates in Putnam County, along with members of the sheriff’s office, providing a fake name but a real address.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

“It was crafted in such a way that there were certain things of hot topic mentioned in there, and of course we worry, we pay close attention to any type of hate crime. Whether that’s a hate crime based on someone’s race, religion, sexual preference, gender identity, so that was mentioned,” Colonel Joseph Wells with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said. “It was also mentioned there was violence already occurred at the house. So, that’s going to raise red flags, the address validated. It’s a valid address, so all the pieces were there to send us to a massive response for no reason.”

The Palatka Police Department and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office went to the home and met with a 15-year-old boy who they learned had an online argument with someone from a different state. A police report said he was friends with a girl online in Washington State, and told the girl to break up with someone else. Since then, the teen has been getting harassed.

“The young man who lives in our jurisdiction didn’t do any wrong other than not realizing and perhaps given out more information than he did such as his address, which is how this unfolded,” Colonel Wells said.

Swatting is something law enforcement agencies are seeing more of and Colonel Wells said if you think you’re a victim of harassment, call police immediately.

“Don’t pay any ransom, don’t give money, don’t give them any personal information, and notify law enforcement right away,” he said.

Colonel Wells said it’s important for parents to be mindful of what their children are doing online.

“It’s why we encourage families and parents to monitor online activity, parents can’t look at it as invasion of privacy they have to look at it as a way of protecting their children,” he said.

Colonel Wells said officials in Putnam County, West Virigina also got the same fake email, saying it’s become a nationwide investigation. Investigators don’t know the suspects’ names, but are doing everything they can to figure it out.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

Comments on this article

mobile apps

Everything you love about wokv.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!