Computer Crime Research Center


Fake 911 calls are latest cybercrime

Date: February 19, 2008

TORRANCE, Calif., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The United States is dealing with a new type of cybercrime that fools 911 dispatchers into sending SWAT teams to homes where there is no emergency.

Called "swatting," the practice involves using computers to make it appear that life-and-death emergency calls are coming from homes selected by the prankster, The Daily Breeze newspaper of Torrance, Calif. reports.

Supervising agent Bryan Duchene of the FBI's Los Angeles cybercrimes unit says swatting has no profit motive.

"It's just a twisted way for people to have fun."

In one of the latest cases of swatting, a Washington state youth faces up to 18 years in prison on charges of tricking a California dispatcher into sending a SWAT team to a house in Orange County.

Prosecutors say Randall Ellis, 19, randomly selected a family in Lake Forest, Calif., and made sure they were at home before calling 911.

The family was asleep when the SWAT team arrived but fortunately no one was injured.

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