Swatting is a criminal harassment technique that involves tricking an emergency service into sending a police or emergency service response team to someone else’s address. Due to its usage as a form of intimidation and the possibility of harm or death, proponents have asked for swatting to be classified as terrorism.
In many jurisdictions, making false reports to emergency services is a crime that carries a fine or possible jail time.
Swatting entails a high danger of violence, waste of tax money on the part of the city or county when it responds to a fictitious claim of a serious law enforcement emergency, and potential legal culpability. In California, swatters are responsible for the “whole cost” of the reaction, which can result in fines of up to $10,000 if the swatting causes significant bodily harm or death.
Police were concerned about bomb threats in the 1970s, and some public structures, like airports, were evacuated in response to hoax calls intended to frighten people and disrupt public order or to postpone tests at educational institutions. In recent years, hoax callers have used various methods to hide their identities or places of origin.
Calling emergency services on purpose is where swatting first began. Callers have utilised increasingly complex methods over time to guide specific response units. The phrase “swatting” specifically refers to attempts to mobilise SWAT teams to specific places. The FBI began using the word in 2008, and in 2015, Oxford Dictionaries Online added it to their database.
Swatting offenders may use a variety of caller ID spoofing, social engineering, TTY, prank calls, and phone phreaking techniques together. In order to conceal the location of the fraudulent caller, the caller generally dials 911 while using a fake phone number, with the intention of deceiving emergency personnel into dispatching a SWAT squad in response to a false emergency.
In order to combat swatting, the Seattle Police Department adopted a three-pronged strategy in October 2018. They trained 911 dispatchers to recognise potential swatting calls, made sure that responding officers were aware of the possibility of a hoax situation, and established an opt-in registry for people who feared being the target of swatting, such as journalists, celebrities, or live streamers.
By using the registry, these folks can alert the police about prospective swatting attempts directed at the victim’s address, which will help officers responding to the scene.
The committee’s goal is to increase public awareness and promote swatting prevention by gathering and evaluating data, formalising protocols, and lobbying for them. Naveed Jamali and Sean Whitcomb, the person who developed the anti-swatting register, are currently serving as co-chairs of the group.
Gamer swatting is a deeply troubling and dangerous phenomenon that threatens the safety and well-being of online gamers. It is imperative that gamers, online communities, and authorities work together to combat this menace. By understanding its motivations, consequences, and taking proactive measures, we can strive to make the gaming world a safer and more enjoyable space for everyone involved. Remember, swatting is not a prank; it’s a criminal act with potentially life-threatening consequences.