Every time someone puts in a fake 911 call that summons a real SWAT team or another large-scale emergency response, local residents suffer emotional distress, taxpayers lose money and officials waste crucial time and resources. After a spate of hoax 911 calls in the Long Island area — 53 since 2014 — Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants to make these prank calls, known as “swatting,” a federal offense.
“The FBI has warned about the increase of swatting attacks sweeping across the country,” he said on Monday, introducing legislation that would make the maximum penalty for swatting eight years in prison and demand financial compensation for the cost incurred by the hoax.
He spoke a week after 200 people were evacuated over what turned out to be a fake report about a hostage situation. The incident cost the county a reported $20,000.
Swatting has been linked to online gaming, the New York Times reported earlier this month, with voyeurs calling 911 to gamers’ houses to watch the chaos unfold in real-time, or pranking someone for revenge.
According to the FBI, “Most who engage in swatting are serial offenders also involved in other cyber crimes such as identity theft and credit card fraud” and “They either want to brag about their swatting exploits or exact revenge on someone who angered them online.”
(Photo: Oregon DOT)