A series of recent incidents have highlighted the criminal use of “swatting,” when individuals direct police SWAT teams to an intended victim after making a hoax call. Swatters use technology to hide their location and identity when making prank calls. Celebrities like Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher have been the past targets of swatters, according to this CNN report.
In one recent case, Los Angeles-based Tyler Barriss, 25, is accused of making a hoax call to 911 to avenge an online video game wager which led to the shooting of unarmed Andrew Finch in his Wichita home by an officer. It is thought that Finch was mistakenly targeted and has no known connection to Barriss (Reuters). The FBI has warned swatting has been a growing problem in the US in recent years, with about 400 incidents occurring each year.