A 13 year old from California has confessed to carrying out 3 seperate instances of swatting across 2 states in America, reports Ars Technica.
Swatting is the act of contacting the emergency services under false pretences, hoping to create enough of a disturbance that a SWAT team become involved. The teenager in question – whose name is being protected due to his age – “swatted” a classmate and a teacher in Ventura County, California, according to the county sheriff’s department. He also swatted a rival Minecraft player in Ocean City, New Jersey – but on that occassion police were able to trace the VOIP calls back to the boy’s home in Camirillo, California.
The worst of the three incidents was discussed by Det. Gene Martinez of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in an interview with Ars Technica: “The Camarillo incident there were 20-plus officers there. I was at that call. We basically surrounded the house. The caller reported there were 10 hostages in the house and demanded $30,000 in cash or he would blow up the house.”
All three of these swattings took place in January, and the youth has now been released into the custody of his parents. His case is being overseen by juvenile court, and it’s likely that he faces the punishment of probation.
In recent years, swatting has become much more commonplace, especially within the gaming community. This is the second case of an arrest in relation to teenage swatting in several months. In February, Brandon Wilson, 19, was arrested in connection to a July swatting in which he claimed that a murder had been committed at a fellow gamers house. He also threatened the victim’s banking and social security accounts and claimed he would put his father into “debt for life”. Wilson now faces a 5 year sentence at a state prison in Illinois if convicted.
OPINION: It’s important to remember with stories like these that this doesn’t reflect on the gaming community or, indeed, gaming as a whole.
Incidents of swatting are incredibly isolated and largely an American phenomenon, and only reflect on the individuals involved who perpetrate these crimes. For whatever reason they feel that it’s ok to behave in a manner that could potentially lead to someone losing their life.Sure, things can often get heated when playing games online, but there’s never any excuse to place someone in a situation where they could find themselves staring down the barrel of an automatic weapon in real life, simply because they managed to snipe you in Call of Duty.
If you frequently play games online, you should be careful with whom you choose to interact or even befriend. There is a chance, no matter how slim, that you could fall victim to one of these twisted pranks. And if someone does annoy you, walk away and do something else to calm down for a bit.
Play nice, and play safe.