Collage of images related to the Comm
Image: Motherboard

Bloodied Macbooks and Stacks of Cash: Inside the Increasingly Violent Discord Servers Where Kids Flaunt Their Crimes

I spent weeks immersed in the world of the Comm, a nebulous community of young hackers, aggressive criminals, and people just hanging out on Discord.
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Hacking. Disinformation. Surveillance. CYBER is Motherboard's podcast and reporting on the dark underbelly of the internet.

A video shot on a phone scans a small bedroom, showing the grisly aftermath of what I was told was a robbery: dry blood smeared across a Macbook Pro, a pair of pliers on an unmade bed, and more blood speckled across the floor and walls. 

A set of photos show a young man in his underwear, restrained with zip ties on his wrists and a small syringe of what one person claimed was heroin. The boy’s captors threatened to inject him with it unless he handed over his cryptocurrency. 


In another video, a man spreads out a stack of crisp $100 bills on his bed. “On god, everyone in this server is poor as shit,” he says. 

The server he refers to is one of a handful of Discord chat servers home to an increasingly brazen community of young people known as the “Comm.” It’s a wide spanning ecosystem of potentially hundreds of gamers, hackers, and many people who just hang out on Discord for fun. Many appear to be young men, and the FBI has already arrested some alleged members for cyberstalking and weapons offenses. At least some members appear to be based in the U.S. and UK.

I started to receive videos and photos that claim to document Comm activity in recent weeks after covering the group’s involvement in violence as a service and a nationwide swatting rampage. Some of the videos and photos were shared on the Discord or Telegram channels linked to the nebulous group. Others were sent to me directly by tipsters, or people who claim to be members of the Comm who wanted to reveal details about other members. Dozens of people reached out, many sending videos and photos of alleged Comm-related robberies, hacking, and grooming of young girls.

In many cases, I’ve been unable to independently verify what exactly happened in each case and to whom. But in others I’ve obtained court records or other evidence that corroborate some of the violent acts. I’ve spoken to multiple people who are in or have knowledge of the Comm. While I was not able to confirm the real identities of the people I spoke to, in some cases they proved their affiliation with, or knowledge of, the Comm. 


Taken as a whole, the videos and photos provide a snapshot of an online community of young people that many likely have no idea exists. The group is not only increasingly violent, but audacious enough to document its activity and share it on channels that we were able to enter after being sent an invite link or guessing the correct URL. The consequences for the people involved in Comm can be extreme and wide reaching: some harassment campaigns have also impacted neighbors of Comm members who seem to have nothing to do with the online community at all.

The rhetoric and posturing in this community have become so extreme so as to be newsworthy in and of themselves, especially when it’s perfectly possible for a young person to essentially stumble into the Comm.

“I found a bunch of people with short usernames and thought they were all cool as fuck cuz [sic] I was insecure back then and I wanted to be accepted,” one member told me. Short usernames, such as single words, are rare in that they are often registered first on a social network or game. Multiple communities, like OG Users, exist around buying, selling, and often hacking into accounts that own these handles.

Do you know anything else about the Comm? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email


The Discord servers themselves are a constant stream of chatter, jokes, racist and homophobic insults, memes, flexing of wealth, and calling other users out for real or perceived slights. In some cases server administrators appear to wipe the chat logs every few hours. On Telegram, some sections of the Comm have created dedicated channels where they publish updates more specifically related to their members or beefs with other groups. Sometimes tipsters pointed me to these channels or I found them myself by scrolling through other channels.

In one, someone uploaded a video from what appears to be a nightclub. Projected onto a huge screen is the name of a specific member and saying he "snitched" (there is no public evidence they did). A Telegram channel which appears to provide updates from a single Comm member showed a young man wearing a glistening watch and holding bundles of cash.

The crimes on display in the videos include SIM swapping, where hackers take over a target’s phone number. Sometimes this is done by tricking an employee at a telecom. From here, the hackers can receive a target’s two-factor authentication tokens or password reset text messages and break into their accounts. Often this ends in the theft of cryptocurrency. Videos I was sent show SIM swappers talking about these crimes, such as what information a “holder” needs—a “holder” is someone who retains control of the stolen number for the duration of the heist.


Many photos sent to me appear to show cryptocurrency balances in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. And some aren’t afraid to flaunt their wares; one photo I was sent shows a custom, bling necklace in the shape of the T-Mobile logo, a telecom that is constantly targeted by SIM swappers. Another video I saw, apparently filmed in a school, shows a young man transferring $1,000 Bitcoin on a phone.

SIM swappers' tactics have constantly evolved, moving from tricking or bribing telecom workers to deploying malware inside telecom networks themselves. Anecdotally, as SIM swapping has become harder with low hanging targets drying up, the Comm has moved on to in-world violence to rob targets or even one another.

Beyond blood covered Macbooks and dramatic robberies, another video I saw shows a young man filming engage two other young men near his home. One of them pulled out a knife. In another unrelated message allegedly sent to another Comm member, someone said they were going to “[firebomb] bomb u.”


A selection of images related to the Comm. Image: Motherboard.

That's where recent arrests by the FBI come in. In September, cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs covered the arrest of a 21-year-old man from New Jersey called Patrick McGovern-Allen for allegedly firing multiple handgun rounds into someone’s home along with a co-conspirator. Local media also reported McGovern-Allen drove a car into a building, forcing residents from their home (a Telegram user posted a message saying they were looking for people to “run thru someones house,” Krebs reported). In May I revealed the FBI had arrested Braiden Williams, who allegedly cyberstalked a specific young girl and her sister, which ended up with a neighbor becoming collateral damage too. 


Court records in Williams’ case specifically name the Comm, and say multiple parts of the FBI have been investigating members. They also point to the Comm’s connections to a nationwide epidemic of swatting calls against schools and universities. At least some of these “caused significant disruptions at schools and universities across the country, especially because they occurred on a weekend when many schools were hosting graduations,” an FBI affidavit says. 

In the court records for Williams’ case, the FBI described the Comm as “a group of cyber-criminal actors.” Members I spoke to pushed back against that definition, mainly because of the diverse range of people in the Comm. Many are not criminals, members claimed, and instead painted the Comm as a more nebulous entity—a community, as the name suggests—than any sort of fixed organization.

One prominent member told me they found the Comm through the Call of Duty trickshotting community. This is where players upload clips of themselves pulling off difficult shots in multiplayer matches. I agreed not to print their username. Although many people reached out to me, the vast majority did not want others to know they were speaking to a journalist, and some specifically said they were scared of further harassment.

Another person who crossed Comm’s path said they first found other members while playing Minecraft. From there, they were invited to various Discord servers affiliated with “ACG”, a specific group under the Comm umbrella.


“I found a bunch of people with short usernames and thought they were all cool as fuck.”

From my hanging out in related Discord servers, some members play games, post memes, and share what they claim are selfies. But it doesn’t take long for the dark underbelly to show itself.

As well as the voluminous videos of violence, some spoke of grooming and abuse of girls who joined the same servers. The prominent member said one girl was “forced to write some dudes name all over her body because someone felt betrayed by her.” I also saw various photos of self-harm and username branding written in sharpie on girls. These people may not realize “exactly what they’re getting into,” the member said.

In a series of chat logs, videos, and images I was sent, one person threatens to, and then appears to actually, swat a girl they had an online relationship with. The messages suggest the abuse was in part because the girl had blocked the other person.

I spoke to another young female victim who said she first encountered a certain Comm member after playing Minecraft. The harassment started when “he liked me and I didn’t like him,” she said. The harasser constantly said he will pay someone to rape and kill her, and she’s been swatted multiple times, the victim told me. She said she has PTSD.

In the Comm there are the people who order the violence for whatever reason, and then the people willing to provide it as a service. I found various Telegram channels run by groups offering their IRL violence services. One called Bricksquad offers to throw bricks at a target building. It also advertised services in which they would shoot a house or car; commit an armed robbery; stab someone; “jumping (multiple people)”; and “beating (singular person).”


“ARMED ROBBERY CRYPTO TARGS [targets]. DM,” one message in Bricksquad reads. The administrators posted call outs for various jobs in different states.

“I've came to the point where having a split personality so people don't find out about all the type of shit I do online has drained me physically and mentally.”

A sizable number of the people who reached out to me about the Comm sent me multiple members’ dox, or their alleged identities. For these tipsters, sending dox to a journalist might be about getting a leg up on a long running beef, or thinking this person should be exposed. I decided to not do much with this information, beyond taking note that many of them were allegedly minors. 

There are myriad challenges in determining who is exactly behind each criminal act detailed in these videos. For a journalist, there are ethical issues too, considering many of these people may be minors. Law enforcement would have a much easier time unmasking these people, if they have a good reason to. This article, instead, shows how online communities like the Comm can radicalize people to the point of conducting or commissioning violence in the physical world. Be that to flex, taunt, intimidate, steal money, or just get a kick out of it. The Comm shows us how easy it can be for people to go just a step or two from a much more mainstream community—people playing Minecraft, Call of Duty—to another, where people are swatting one another. 

The FBI declined to comment on whether it takes the actions of this community seriously, but the agency’s pursuit of alleged Comm members shows the group is on the FBI’s radar. There are indications that law enforcement is continuing its investigations of the Comm. One Comm-linked group called Monkey Mafia wiped its Telegram channel on Monday and said it would shut down the chat completely on Wednesday. The administrator claimed it was because “I’ve been actually getting my life together.”

“I've came to the point where having a split personality so people don't find out about all the type of shit I do online has drained me physically and mentally,” they continued. In its earlier flexes on Telegram, Monkey Mafia repeatedly claimed it was offering swatting-as-a-service to paying customers. “I've been over looking the laws that have been attempted to be put in place for swatting’s and I've realised its not worth the $50 per 5 years.”

In a later message, they claimed to have “confirmed” a case against them is over 140 pages long. They signed off with a message to their associates: “As far as I know, if you have been involved in anyway shape or form you are fucked.”

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