In the months since the hacking group Lizard Squad began its seemingly random reign of terror against both the Playstation Network and Xbox Live, thousands of gamers have been crying out in collective rage. Frustrated at not being able to access those networks, internet vigilantes have tried to punish Lizard Squad by posting their personal information online, including phone numbers. Except the people doxed so far don't actually seem to be in Lizard Squad.
Elizabeth Harris is a 71-year-old grandma that lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, and she's been getting threatening phone calls for weeks accusing her of being in Lizard Squad. Her phone number was included on the Lizard Squad dox list put out by a group calling themselves Finest Squad, and her number is one of the few that is not disconnected or elicits a "your number cannot be completed as dialed" error message.
Because of this, she's borne the brunt of these angry, harassing phone calls, most of which happen in the middle of the night. "I'm tired, and I'm sick, and I'm sick and tired of this," Harris told me, citing a hemoglobin issue she was just at the doctor's trying to take care of. "I hear [the phone ringing] all night long."
Most of the callers yell at her for damaging a Playstation. "I don't know even what a Playstation is," she said, adding that she only uses her computer for work. Tracing the phone calls has proven to be difficult, as almost all of them are coming from Skype. She said one of her harassers was a 10-year-old girl that Harris got to stop after she lied to to the girl and told her the Greensboro Sheriff's Department was monitoring Harris's phone line.
Charlie Gutierrez, 59, who works with the disabled in California, is another man who was wrongly doxed by Finest Squad. He estimates he's received thousands of angry phone calls to date, with at least 200 coming just on Christmas Day, which led him to call me that evening a bit distraught.
"I don't know how to deal with this," he said in our first conversation, which took place while he was at work watching a young man exercising with a punching bag. "It's taken hours of my time, hours I could have spent helping people that needed it."
Phone calls to his number include weird noises like "they're blowing raspberries with their mouths" to more heated, aggressive calls that have left him unsettled. He tries to talk to some of these "emotionally invested" kids, and usually afterward they apologize, but they also call him in the middle of the night and he can't answer every one. Gutierrez says he doesn't own an Xbox or any other console, nor plays any of those video games mentioned, so the majority of the messages he gets sounds like a foreign language.
"If they were so excellent, why didn't they double check before they put the numbers online?" asked Gutierrez, referring to Finest Squad. "Why don't they work in the system? This online justice system is a violation of due process."
As for the real members of Lizard Squad, Brian Krebs, a former security reporter for the Washington Post, has identified two young men, Vinnie Omari and Julius Kivimäki, as either being in Lizard Squad or taking credit for their attacks. Omari is 22 and lives in the UK, and Kivimäki is believed to be a teenager living in Finland. Neither of them were listed on any dox put out by Finest Squad or other internet vigilantes.