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This popular internet prank becoming dangerous, expensive - Los Angeles

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 28th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sophisticated pranksters are endangering the lives of several Hollywood celebrities and costing area law enforcement thousands with a new prank known as "swatting."

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The prank has been the cause of LAPD and SWAT team responses to the homes of Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and most recently Simon Cowell, among others.

The prank involves a 911 call disguised to appear to 911 operators as if it originated from within the victim's home. The caller, with their voice disguised, sometimes as a woman's, will say they are tied up or locked up in the house. This elicits a heavily-armed police response.

Those responses have already cost the city tens of thousands of dollars per call and some officers have been injured while responding.

They also put the celebrity and any bystanders in a hazardous situation because police must assume that a crisis situation exists and respond appropriately, often prepared to use deadly force.

Unfortunately, the laws in California do not adequately address these pranks either.

Swatting originated on the internet as a prank that angry gamers might play on each other to exact revenge for a perceived wrong. Now it is becoming a dangerous, almost regular occurrence.

In other states, police have responded to such calls and even arrested the innocent victims inside until they could uncover the hoax.

Very few people have been caught and fewer still prosecuted.

Local police warn that the prank is very serious and potentially deadly. In the event of an accident, the prankster could face very severe penalties including felony charges.

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