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Swatting is a social engineering practice which involves falsely reporting incidents to emergency services in order to deploy various police units to a location. The hoaxes have been criticized for wasting tax payer dollars and preventing emergency services from appearing where they are needed.
On December 18th, 2007, Urban Dictionary user neoeon submitted an entry for “swatting,” defining the practice as calling 9-1-1 to send a SWAT team to an “unsuspecting victim’s home under false pretenses.”
On February 4th, 2008, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) published an article titled “Don’t Make the Call: The New Phenomenon of ‘Swatting’”, which described the practice and listed several prosecutions against suspected swatters. In May, Massachusetts resident Matthew Weigman (a.k.a. “Little Hacker”) was arrested for being involved in a “swatting conspiracy.” In January 2009, Weigman pled guilty and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. On November 19th, 2010, the emergency communications blog 9-1-1 Magazine published an article warning about the threat of “telephone swatting.” On September 10th, 2011, the gaming news blog Kotaku reported that a police unit had been sent to an Xbox Live moderator’s house in Washington by gamers seeking revenge. On December 18th, 2012, CNN reported that a suspect had been arrested for making false calls to emergency services against actor Ashton Kutcher and pop star Justin Bieber. On September 10th, 2013, NBC News reported that a bill increasing penalties for swatting pranks was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown. On June 5th, 2014, Vice released a documentary on swatting (shown below).
On August 27th, 2014, an online Counterstrike match livestreamed on Twitch by YouTube gamer Jordan Matthewson (a.k.a. Kootra) was raided by SWAT officers in Littleton, Colorado after a 911 caller claimed a man had shot several coworkers in the Creatures LLC office building he was playing in. That day, YouTuber Amund Johnsen uploaded a recording of the incident, which gathered upwards of 2.3 million views and 9,800 comments in the next 48 hours.
United States Department of Justice – Individual Pleads Guilty in Swatting Conspiracy Case