'Swatting' cases on the rise - AmericaNowNews.com

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'Swatting' cases on the rise

Here is a story about an alarming prank that's sweeping the nation. It's called swatting. It's a hoax that happens when tech-savvy teens place fake calls to 911. Their intent is getting police swat teams to respond. But it's a dangerous and costly stunt that's causing a lot of trouble.

911 AUDIO TAPE:

Operator... 911. "What's your emergency?"

Caller: "I've got two people held hostage. And I am armed. And I will kill these people. I will shoot. I'm not afraid. I will shoot and then I will kill myself. ‘Cause I don't care. Do you understand?"

A chilling 911 call. A gunman is holding a Colorado father and his teenage daughter hostage. Who is the would-be killer on the other end of the line? It's a 14-year-old phone hacker in Massachusetts using ID Spoofing technology to make it appear as if he's calling from the victims' home.

The whole thing is a prank called Swatting – designed to send police rushing to a house where, in reality, there's no emergency at all.

America Now reporter, Asha Blake says, "It's a dangerous crime trend that's taking child's play to a whole new level."

And it's happening all over the country. In Los Angeles celebrity swatting is especially rampant. Police being called to the homes of high profile victims.

Singer Justin Bieber and tv personality Ryan Seacrest to name a few. LAPD Lieutenant, Alan Hamilton, says such crank calls keep police from responding to real crimes.

"It is a huge drain on our resources," says Hamilton, "Quite often, in the Los Angeles Police Department specifically, we would have to bring in people from another division."

It's also expensive. When actor Ashton Kutcher got swatted, it cost the city $10,000! And that's one reason LA city councilman Paul Koretz introduced anti-swatting legislation that would provide a $50,000 reward for turning in a swatter, which, in turn, caused him to become a victim himself.

"The day after my motion was heard in council, I was swatted personally with a huge response of a number of police cars, a number of officers with their guns drawn. At some point, someone is going to do the wrong thing and they could get shot or hurt in some other way. So even though it's a prank, it's in reality very dangerous," says Koretz.

And for the swatter there can be severe penalties - remember the young Massachusetts prankster?

Caller: "I've got two people held hostage. And I am armed. And I will kill these people."

He got an 11-year prison sentence when the FBI linked him to multiple swatting incidents.

"What are the top things you can think of that parents can do to keep their kids off the swatting path?," asks reporter Asha Blake?

"Know what your children are doing when it comes to technology and social media. Number two: make sure they know what the consequences are. They have to know there are consequences for their actions," says Lt. Hamilton.

What's important to know is swatting is a crime. It costs taxpayers thousands of dollars, it prevents police from responding to actual emergencies, and when guns are drawn everyone involved could be in danger.

Copyright 2014 America Now. All rights reserved. 

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