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How do the authorities investigate “swatting” incidents?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Criminal Defense

“Swatting” is a type of harassment that involves making false reports to emergency services for the sole purpose of getting the authorities to deploy a heavily armed force (including SWAT teams) to an unsuspecting victim’s home or business to intimidate and frighten them.

Swatting has been in the news again lately as numerous public figures, places of worship and businesses have become targets of this practice in recent months. Oftentimes, the people who engage in swatting are young and think of these acts as nothing more than a prank – but that is not how the authorities see it.

Nobody is as anonymous as they think

Most people think of the internet as incredibly vast – and they feel like they can easily hide their identities when they engage in something like swatting, but the authorities now have a lot of sophisticated tools at their disposal to track down anybody who makes one of these false reports. That includes things like:

  • Caller identification technology: Phone records, the metadata on a call and voice analysis can all be used to gather evidence against swatting participants.
  • IP tracing: Swatters often use virtual private networks (VPNs) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to hide their identity and think they are foolproof – but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other agencies have often been able to work with internet service providers to pinpoint a swatter’s exact geographical location.
  • Collaboration with tech companies: Tech companies have been increasingly open to working with the authorities to stop swatting. Social media platforms, gaming networks and communication apps can all provide evidence about a swatter’s activities and connections.

In short, swatting is not treated like a harmless joke – and those accused of this crime may face extradition to other states and even federal charges. If you or a loved one currently faces charges related to swatting, the wisest move you can make is to invoke your right to remain silent until you have a chance to better explore your defense options.