NY man arrested for robocalls to schools

FBI in Alaska looking into connection to calls made to local schools

The Anchorage Federal Bureau of Investigation division is looking into a recent arrest of a New York man charged with making threatening phone calls to Arizona schools to determine if he’s connected with similar calls made to Juneau and other Alaska schools this year.

 

Viktor Lisnyak, 29, of Staten Island, N.Y., was arrested by federal agents on July 17 for making calls to Flagstaff, Arizona, elementary schools and threatening to “kill the children” between March and May 2015, according to an FBI news release.

During the same time period, Juneau schools and others around the state were receiving threatening robocalls. The first Juneau calls were made April 27 to two Juneau high schools. Neither police nor the school district would disclose the content of the calls, except that there was a “threatening component.” The calls continued for days and targeted different schools in the district and statewide, totaling more than 30 calls in late April and mid-May. Similar calls to those made in Alaska and Arizona occurred in Washington, California, Oregon and British Columbia.

The Anchorage division of the FBI has been investigating the Alaska calls.

“At this time, we do not know if (the New York arrest) is related to the calls in Alaska,” said Staci Feger-Pellessier, spokeswoman for the Anchorage FBI office, on Thursday. “We’re in conversation with the field office in New York to try and find out, but I believe all he’s been charged with right now is Arizona. So we don’t know really; there’s no indication right now that he was involved in the Alaska cases.”

A criminal complaint document states that Lisnyak used a robotic voiceover while making his five calls to Arizona schools. He said something slightly different in every call, but all were similar to “I’m going to kill myself, I’m going to kill your children, and I’m on the roof of your school.”

The supporting affadavit states that Lisnyak made numerous calls like this to schools all over the U.S.

He made the calls to get “points” in an online video game, the affadavit states. Sometimes he “had to make these calls if he ‘lost’ a game,” according to the document.

Every one of the five Arizona calls is punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, or both, according to the FBI news release.

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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