A 16-year-old teen from Ottowa, Canada is facing 60 charges stemming form an illegal activity known as “swatting.” Not to be confused with squatting — which is also illegal, swatting is a hoax in which a person calls 911, the police or fire department to report an emergency at the wrong address. The purpose of swatting is to convince the authorities to target the wrong address, potentially injuring the residents inside.
Authorities believe the unnamed minor is responsible for making 30 hoax calls to various parts of the U.S., many of which deemed a response by SWAT. According to police, the boy would call emergency police lines in various cities — never in Ottowa, however — to report bombs, hostage scenarios, break-ins and more. When the responding officers arrived on scene, they were left with more questions than answers, as they soon realized it was an elaborate hoax.
Ottowa police arrested the boy at his home in west Ottowa after a grueling 2-month investigation. Ottowa police are handling the case along with the help of the FBI, Calgary, Ontario, and Quebec police forces. The boy is being charged with public mischief, mischief to property, uttering death threats, and conveying false information with intent to alarm. Depending on the results of further investigation, the boy could face even more charges. His name is being withheld due to the his age.
“Swatting is a term utilized online to refer to engaging emergency services with false calls to affect revenge on an individual or organization by causing the response of armed SWAT teams to active shooter scenarios or bomb threats,” Ottawa police Staff Sgt. Rick Baldwin-Ooms said Friday. “In this case, the subject is a suspect in at least 30 North American occurrence.”
After searching the boy’s home, Ottowa police confiscated several computers, communications equipment, data transmission devices, as well as firearms and ammunition. It’s unclear whether or not the firearms are linked to any specific criminal behavior, but the local authorities viewed it as an “item of interest.”
According to the FBI, each time emergency responders are called to investigate a ‘swatting’ hoax, it costs approximately $10,000 in taxpayer money while placing the lives of officers at risk. Considering the fact that over 60 swatting hoax calls were made from the perpetrator’s home, it’s clear to see the financial toll his criminal activity had on various government bodies.