Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai
Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Indian American teenager Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai was arrested for carrying out a cyberattack that swamped Arizona’s emergency services with several bogus calls, an incident he claimed was a non-harmful practical joke gone wrong.

Desai was taken into custody after the Surprise Police Department notified the Sheriff’s Office of more than 100 hang-up 911 calls.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office arrested the 18-year-old. He’s been alleged of carrying out a cyberattack on the 911 system, according to a Sheriff’s Office statement. He was booked into county jail on suspicion of three counts of computer tampering. Interference with critical infrastructure could have disrupted the 911 system in the Phoenix area and potentially other states.

Investigators traced the calls after having originally discovered they were originating from a link posted on the social media website, Twitter. When clicked, the link redirected investigators to a website named “Meet Desai.” It was hosted out of San Francisco. Additionally, when the link was clicked, it continually called 911 and would not let the caller hang up.

Peoria police and the MCSO also received a large number of calls, and the volume had the potential to shut down 911 service across Maricopa County, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“Meet claims that his intention was to make a non-harmful, but annoying bug that he believed was ‘funny’,” the Sheriff’s Office statement said.

Desai told investigators he was approached by a friend with a bug, he took it and tweaked it so it would add pop-ups, prompts to open e-mail applications and activation of automatic telephone dialing on iOS devices. The bug used code Desai wrote himself entirely. He told investigators he was interested in programming, bugs and viruses, according to the release, especially ones that he could change or manipulate, it added.

He might have been motivated by an incentive program from Apple Computer, investigators said, as he was seeking to earn one of the cash prizes the company awards for consumers who discover bugs and viruses in their iOS operating system.