Swatting is the term referring to a criminal act in which the offender(s) trick emergency services into sending
response units by filing false reports of ongoing critical incidents, i.e. mass shooting, hostage situation. The term is derived from Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), known for possessing powerful firearms and equipment specifically designed to break down doors.
The act of swatting has been called a form of terrorism due to its potential to cause public disruption, waste time and effort made by emergency services, divert attention from real emergencies, and even cause physical and psychological harm to victims. The act of filing a false report to emergency services is punishable by imprisonment in the U.S.; it is also classified as a crime in many other countries.
Origins and Techniques
The term was used by the FBI as far back as 2008. Swatting originally started with prank calls, but it became more prominent with the public after later incidents were driven by more nefarious motives and more sophisticated techniques were being used. Caller ID spoofing, social engineering, TTY, prank calls, phone phreaking techniques, or a combination of at least two techniques have been used during swatting incidents.
On Criminal Minds
In the Season Eleven finale episode The Storm, Aaron Hotchner was the victim of swatting committed by a group of anarchists, who hoped to divert the attention of the BAU and other authorities from their scheme of breaking their leader Eric Rawdon out of prison and commit a terrorist attack against the U.S.
Real World Swatters
- Matthew Weigman
- "Obnoxious" (pseudonym)
- James Edward Holly
- Zachary Lee Morgenstern