MIT hoaxer sent bogus message using special system for hearing- or speech-impaired

The tipster who sent a false report on Saturday to Cambridge police about a gunman in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology building used a special system designed for people with hearing or speech impediments to transmit the message, police said today.

The Internet relay service allowed the tipster to send a written message to a Sprint employee, who then called police to relay the message, said Cambridge police spokesman Dan Riviello.

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During their conversation, the Sprint employee gave police the name of a suspect the tipster had provided. Police contacted the person and determined that he was not involved with the incident in any way, a Cambridge poliee statement said.

After the tip came in around 7:30 a.m. Saturday, police placed 77 Massachusetts Ave., the main building on MIT’s campus, in lockdown mode and searched the area for nearly four hours. No gunman was found. Police believe the report was false, Riviello said.

Police and prosecutors have said they will press charges against the tipster when they uncover the person’s identity.

Sprint spokeswoman Crystal Davis said that in order to be granted access to the relay service, a customer must pass through a verification system to confirm that they have a hearing or speech impediment.

Davis said the company would turn over to police the name of the subscriber who sent the tip through the relay service, if that subscriber can be identified.

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