Police victims of ‘swatting’ scam

Fake crime reported online

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ROSWELL, Ga. – Someone led Roswell police on a wild goose chase April 30, posing as a child threatening to kill herself as part of a prank called “swatting.”

Police received a 911 call from someone claiming they were chatting online with someone posing as an 11-year-old Roswell girl who was threatening to hang herself. The chat allegedly occurred on the teen website www.yourlifeyourvoice.org, which helps teenagers with their problems.

The website tracked the IP address of the person chatting to a Belcourt Parkway address.

Police responded to the address and found no such teenager. They had AT&T search for the girl’s address, which returned a Spring Ridge Drive residence. Police arrived and were informed the girl was safe and asleep in bed. Her email address had been hacked.

According to Roswell Police Spokeswoman Lisa Holland, this is a scam called “swatting.”

“We’ve had this before here [in Roswell],” she said. “This one isn’t as bad as where there’s an active crime.”

The idea is someone pranks the police department about a fake crime being committed. Often, it is a violent crime in progress. Police can respond with the SWAT team and armed officers. Thus, the term “swatting.”

Holland said such a prank can turn dangerous.

“[Officers] are going into a house where nothing is happening and the homeowners are scared,” Holland said. “They may shoot at us. This could also potentially be very dangerous to the police officers and the homeowners we are responding to.”