On Wednesday, a San Diego teenager who was arrested for making hoax bomb threats was found to be a part of a group of online gamers responsible for “swatting” across the country.

 

Swatting is a trend popularized by the online gaming community that involves calling in a false crime report against someone for a serious offense, such as murder. The response the caller is hoping for is that a SWAT team will raid the house of the falsely accused.

 

Police are trying to crack down on swatting because it wastes time and resources, and puts the lives of the victims and SWAT team members in danger. Instances of swatting is becoming far too frequent. The FBI believes that swatting occurred about 400 times per year. In 2013 for instance, the online group which the accused minor is linked to, was responsible for swatting incidents across five states and has even reached two cities in Ontario, Canada.

 

The victims of swatting are usually professional gaming streamers. They are the favored targets because these gamers stream live through a webcam, which means the SWAT team raids can occur in front of audiences in the thousands.

 

Professional “Counter-Strike” player, Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert, has had 911 called on him as a prank so often that his teammates say it “happens every week.” The worst incident was the day a SWAT team arrived at his home and put him and his father in handcuffs while pointing their rifles at them.

 

 

In California, those convicted of swatting can get one year in prison with fines up to $10,000. However, the risk of prison still isn’t enough to deter some from attempting this prank. To some, swatting may seem like it’s just a funny prank, but it’s not worth the laugh when it endangers the lives of others.

 

Why is swatting becoming such a popular trend? How can instances of swatting become less frequent? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.