‘Spoofing’ makes investigation difficult after threat locks down schools

A threat came into the Crisis Center in Lafayette that sent area schools into lockdown status in December 2013. (WLFI Photo)
A threat came into the Crisis Center in Lafayette that sent area schools into lockdown status in December 2013. (WLFI Photo)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A newer method called spoofing could be behind a threat that sent schools in two counties into lockdown status in December.

“We knew that there was a potential threat some place, but we didn’t know which school it might be,” said Patrick Flannelly, Lafayette Police Chief.

The threat was made through a call to the Lafayette Crisis Center. Lafayette police said a caller said he was near a school, he had a weapon and was going inside to harm people. Schools in Tippecanoe and Benton counties were placed on lockdown, but no threat was discovered.

Flannelly said investigators believe the caller used technology for spoofing, which in this case was used to mask a phone number.

“The way that people can redirect through IP addresses now, voice over internet. You can be in one location [and] send a call to another — they can bounce it around. It’s challenging when you’re trying to track back some of these things,” said Flannelly.

Flannelly said the call was eventually tracked either from or through Singapore, but that’s as far as the tracking went. He said after further investigation, Lafayette wasn’t the only target of the call.

“It wasn’t just our agency that day that experienced that. There apparently was other crisis centers that received similar calls in a similar time frame,” explained Flannelly.

Flannelly said at this point, investigators believe the call was not credible and was most likely a prank.

“In the end, we still have to treat those the same way. We will continue to investigate,” said Flannelly.

Flannelly said spoofing is a method used in many fraudulent schemes geared towards consumers. He said as standard rule of thumb — “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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