Time Square - New York in movement. Shot of cars in movement with motion blur.

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Viral Times Square mass shooting threat might be the work of hacker trolls

It seems unlikely to be real.

 

Marlon Ettinger

Tech

A cryptic image of a mass shooting threat in Times Square by a man went viral on social media on Wednesday evening into Thursday morning. 

“If you plan on going to times square tomorrow, please don’t!!, read one post, which had over 30,000 reposts and nearly 100,000 likes.

The threat also made the rounds on Reddit.

According to a low-quality screenshot, posted to what looks like an Instagram story, an email appears to show the person writing that they’ll go to Times Square and kill “as many people as I possibly can.”

Above the text is an image and name.  

However disconcerting, the name in threat appears tied to a hacker group, making it possible it is an attempt to frame or troll somebody.

“I will be armed with an AR-15, multiple other handguns, full body armor, gas mask, and much more,” the post reads.

“I will be live streaming it on kick & twitch respectively & I will also have a full manifesto on my phone & computer that I will be posting prior to my plan,” the message continues.

There’s also a line titled “My Address,” with a gray bar censoring a home. Uncensored screenshots showing the address were also shared on social media.

The NYPD’s Midtown South Precinct didn’t immediately respond to questions about how seriously the threat is being taken or if they’d questioned anybody about.

An X account with a similar name to the man has been suspended, with some posters pointing to an archived post from the account that seems to have made a similar threat back in December. 

“on the 25th of december i will be heading to @MSB_Hospital in brooklyn with pipe bombs and im gonna blow the entire building down mark my words.”

It’s unclear if the account was suspended in the wake of that post or more recently and whether it is actually affiliated with the individual  

A Kick account with the same name also appears to be defunct, and a search for the man’s name on Twitch didn’t turn up any results.

But some posters speculated that the man named in the post wasn’t actually behind the threat

“Sorry – with regard to the twitter, they both prob belong to him or his dumb friends who are framing him,” posted @bx_on_x, highlighting the account’s potential association with a hacking group. 

Another X account with the man’s name in its bio also started circulating, sharing photos of somebody posing with a gun, their computer, and cash, their face obscured by a Bitcoin logo. That account included a reference to ACG, an alleged hacker group that the FBI claimed are behind Bitcoin heists and other crimes.

It’s possible that the viral screenshot might have been an attempt at a troll either by or against the hacker group.

A Telegram channel from March containing an alleged dox of the person is full of insults against the man who’s named as being behind the threat, as well as videos of him in what looks like a school hallway being called a “cuck” and contact information for people who they say are his family.

His allegedly doxed address from posts in March also matches the address on the uncensored version of the viral Times Square threat.

An alleged family member included in the dox didn’t immediately respond to questions about the case, and another number was out of service.

Comments on cybersecurity blog Krebs on Security from 2022 also appear to try to blame the man named in the threat for various crimes detailed in an article about online “violence for hire” rings.

The man named in the viral threat didn’t immediately reply to emails included in his dox.


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