Boy, 16, arrested in Merseyside over US bomb hoaxes

Undated file photo of a person using a laptop computer keyboard. Image copyright PA
Image caption The alleged threats are believed to have been committed via social media, Skype and email

A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in Merseyside as part of an investigation into bomb hoaxes and threats made to US airports, schools and media companies.

The teenager was arrested in Bidston, Wirral, at 07:00 BST in a joint operation between police and the FBI.

The alleged offences are believed to have been committed using Skype, Twitter, MSN Messenger and email.

Several computers and mobile phones were also seized from the boy's home, Merseyside Police said.

'Swatting' offences

The alleged offences took place between September 2014 and April this year, with the majority of the threats made on Twitter in January.

A large number of bomb hoax communications were sent to schools and universities in Michigan, as well as American airlines, airports and news organisations, police said.

Several flights had to be grounded in January and two others escorted by military jets due to the threats.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The offences were largely committed on Twitter during a period in January

The teenager remains in custody, where he is being question by specialist cyber crime detectives from Titan, the North West regional organised crime unit.

Police said he will also be spoken to about a series of "swatting" offences committed against US police departments and airports between October 2014 and March this year.

"Swatting" is a term used in the US to describe malicious phone calls or other communications in which the offender provides false information about a fictitious threat or incident at a specific location.

The common aim is to provoke an armed tactical response from the police.

Det Supt Jason Hudson, head of operations at Titan, said the arrest was "proportionate and necessary".

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