Have you heard of “Swatting”? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. But this prank among the community of online video gamers is becoming a real problem for law enforcement. The premise is simple. People playing online games like “Call of Duty” with strangers are able to gather personal information about their opponents. When they lose, they call in a crime at the expense of the winner.
This week, dispatchers at the Long Beach Police Department received a call from someone identifying himself as 17-year old Rafael Castillo. “I just killed my mother and I might shoot more people,” he said.
Nassau County police promptly sent in a full SWAT team, complete with helicopters, guns drawn, and over 60 officers. It resulted in a 90-minute standoff that the REAL Rafael Castillo couldn’t even hear…because he had his headphones on, and was still playing “Call of Duty” in his bedroom. His family was completely safe and sound.
The FBI has had to respond to pranks like this for years now, and there hasn’t seemed to be anything they can do to curb the ongoing problem. California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation to make perpetrators liable for these types of acts…but that only works when the guilty party can actually be identified. The worst aspect of “Swatting” is the mere fact that it diverts valuable resources away from real crimes. Related pranks on high-profile celebrities like Selena Gomez and Justin Timberlake have been taking place as well. Read more about the disturbing trend here.
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