New Prank Trend: Sic SWAT Teams on Celeb Homes

'Swatting' proving difficult for authorities stamp out
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2012 2:44 PM CST
New Prank Trend: Sic SWAT Teams on Celeb Homes
Simon Cowell, "swatting" victim.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Pranksters' latest hoax of choice: make a fake distress call reporting hostages or armed robbers at an address that happens to belong to a celebrity, thus sending authorities—hopefully a SWAT team—to the star's home. Simon Cowell was the most recent victim of "swatting," with a caller falsely claiming a woman was being held hostage in his bathroom. But because the dispatcher suspected a hoax, Beverly Hills police checked it out and left quickly. However, multiple squad cars were scrambled last month when someone reported shots fired at Justin Bieber's, and heavily armed deputies didn't realize they'd been had until they swept Bieber's place and two others nearby. In the past few months, a helicopter was dispatched to Ashton Kutcher's residence, and firefighters joined police at Miley Cyrus' home.

Authorities are concerned the pranks, which have actually been played for years but are just recently gaining mainstream popularity, could turn fatal—officers have already been injured while responding to some. And they're not sure what to do, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some swatters can actually trick caller ID into making it look like the 911 call came from inside the celebrity's home, and tracing the calls can be difficult. Even if the swatter is caught, in California making a false police report is just a misdemeanor; now, authorities and lawmakers are looking into making it a felony. (Read more celebrity stories.)

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