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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Chicago Politicians’ Zoom Call Interrupted By Porn-Streaming Hijackers

"Zoom bombing" is on the rise, the FBI has warned. On Tuesday, Chicago aldermen and state reps were the latest victims.

A zoom call hosted by politicians that included Alds. Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Byron Sigcho Lopez (25th) was interrupted by porn-streaming hijackers.
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PILSEN — A virtual press conference hosted by Chicago politicians was cut short after someone hijacked the conference call and started streaming pornographic images.

On Tuesday morning, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), and Illinois State Reps. Theresa Mah and Ann Williams held a private press conference with organizers, health officials and reporters on popular teleconferencing platform Zoom.

The leaders aimed to call on Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker to close metal scrappers polluting Chicago neighborhoods including General Iron in Lincoln Park and the Sims Metal Management in Pilsen, particularly because of the respiratory nature of COVID-19.

But 16 minutes into the Zoom chat, that push was interrupted by a person who said: “Yeah, I don’t care.”

As confusion set in, a pornographic video that included images of a woman who was not fully clothed began playing on the video call. 

A staffer who works for Sigcho-Lopez quickly advised guests the call had been compromised before shutting down the Zoom chat.

After the Zoom chat, Sigcho-Lopez said he, and his staffers, were “surprised” and caught off guard by the intrusion of the private meeting.

“We did not expect to be hijacked,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “Obviously, after that, we suspended the call.”

Ahead of the call, Sigcho-Lopez said he was aware of other breaches and his staff was “trying to be as careful as possible” while getting critical information out to his ward. 

The freshman alderman said his staff is changing passwords to ensure another hijacking doesn’t take place.

On Monday, the FBI in Boston warned about a rise in “Zoom bombing” — where trolls hijack a video teleconferencing call to broadcast hate speech, porn and other unsavory images.

In two separate instances in Massachusetts, callers dialed in and shouted profanity and identified the teacher’s home address. In another instance, a caller displayed his swastika tattoos, according to the FBI.

In the warning issued Monday, the agency urged people to not publicize unrestricted Zoom links publicly. 

On Wednesday, a Zoom representative said the company was “deeply upset to hear about the incidents involving this type of attack.”

“We strongly condemn such behavior and we encourage users to report any incidents … so we can take appropriate action.”

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