Swatting is an Internet prank that has criminal consequences and happens when a person finds your address either through your IP address or because they know your name and address. They call 911 and report a false emergency. Emergency crews show up to the location (oftentimes the SWAT team is called) without knowing that there is no critical incident. Cybercriminals and gamers use this type of hoax quite often, and it can have horrible repercussions.
A 17-year old in Canada was recently sentenced to 16 months in jail as well as an additional eight months of supervision after he was found guilty of 23 charges of swatting. The crimes occurred over a one year period of time. Nine of these offenses included criminal harassment, eight of them included public mischief, four of these were for extortion, and one was for making threats. The teen made swatting calls in Canada as well as the United States and in one case, he called in a bomb threat to Disneyland which resulted in the park closing down. The teenager showed no remorse and tried to minimize the crimes. He blamed the victims and said he was driven to inflict trouble on these people because he enjoyed it. The judge that sentenced the teen called him a “deeply troubled young person” and indicated that she believed he was at great risk to reoffend. She encouraged the teen to start caring for himself again as well as others and said he needed to make friends and engage in the real world rather than trying to escape to the online world. (1)
Swatting is far more than just a prank. Innocent people are victimized and scared because of the random act of violence that swatting is. In addition, emergency crews are pulled away from real emergency situations in order to deal with a fake incident, which not only costs time and money, but it can have devastating results for those that actually need help and won’t be able to get it because of swatting’s drain of resources. For many cybercriminals, swatting is a way to feel power and inflict punishment or revenge on people they don’t even know.
If you or someone you know struggles with addiction to technology, video games, or has an interest or tendency to consider swatting, seek help. Internet and gaming addicts may induce dysfunctional brain development. Here is a video where I explain:
1) Deutsch, Jeremy. “Coquitlam teenager sentenced to 16 months in jail for ‘swatting’.” The Vancouver Sun. July 10, 2015. Accessed July 31, 2015. http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Coquitlam+teenager+sentenced+months+jail+swatting/11201301/story.html