Oviedo police detectives are investigating a bomb threat hoax, which they say is the result of hackers who gained access to a teenager's Xbox gaming system.
What started as a simple night of online gaming ended with the home of an innocent family on Bay Club Road, in Oviedo, being stormed by officers. The father of the family, who did not want to identified, said he and his wife saw armed men in front of their house. So, they grabbed their two sons and headed out the back door.
"Altogether, we went out the back of the house, and as soon as we got out there, these bright lights shined in our face and we were told to freeze, and put our hand over our head," he said.
They were relieved to find it wasn't bad guys, but rather Oviedo police officers who were dispatched to the home around 10:45 Tuesday night.
Officers said they had received a call from a teen who was playing a military-style Xbox game with other players through the Internet, at a completely different home in Oviedo. A short time later, another call was received from AT&T stating they were receiving online messages from an individual claiming to be at a home on Bay Club Road and that someone had been killed at that location and others were being held hostage. The person sending the messages also claimed to be hiding inside the home.
Officers responded and that's when they made contact with the family, confirming the call was a hoax.
Officers then made contact with the teen, who said his Xbox account had been hacked. They confirmed that the teen previously lived at the Bay Club home where the hoax was reported and that his on-line account information was still linked to that address.
Through some online investigation of his own, the teen was able to provide officers with some possible identifying information of the suspected hackers, including IP addresses, Twitter and Facebook accounts. The information provided to the officers revealed that both suspects were located in different states.
Despite the ordeal, the father at the house where the hoax bomb threat was reported is grateful for the response. "I, for one, am glad the police came, even though it wasn't a situation, but it could have been."
Technology experts say you never really know who your dealing with when your playing these Internet games with others from all across the country, so it's important to protect the online account that's connected to your gaming console.
"To safeguard yourself, your WiFi isn't going to protect it," said Tom Jelneck, with On Target Web Solutions. "It's being smart about the actual account, locking your passwords down, changing them frequently, and making certain that you don't put to much personal information tied to this account, or that you change it regularly."
He also said you should never link a credit card to your Xbox account.