'Swatting" hits Roswell

7:45 PM, Aug 22, 2011   |    comments
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A Roswell 911 dispatcher

ROSWELL, GA -- There's an internet scam that's putting police and homeowners in some scary standoff situations.
It is called swatting, because it sometimes involves police departments calling out their SWAT teams to respond.

Perpetrators make anonymous prank call using the internet.  It happened in Roswell just a few weeks ago.

On August 5, around 11 pm dispatchers got a call from an AT&T operator saying she had  a text call from a hearing impaired homeowner reporting an armed robbery in her home.
The operator then relayed the information to the dispatchers.

Roswell police sent a team of officers who surrounded the house with their guns drawn only to find out the homeowners inside were not being robbed  and in fact they never made an emergency 911 call.

Lt. James McGee is investigating the incident but does not expect to find the people responsible.

"What they're doing is they're using IP addresses and the internet has what we call a gateway and they go into these so called gateways and it's very hard, not impossible to track the originating call," said McGee.

McGee said he has checked with other agencies and it has happened in other Metro Atlanta areas. 

Nationwide there are dozens of incidents and authorities believe swatting is becoming more common.

"The real concern is what could happen to both officers and homeowners.  When we surround a home and we think there's a robber inside we've got out guns drawn. What if a homeowner hears something and comes out with a weapon of their own.  That's not going to go well," said McGee.

If caught swatting it is a felony--making a false statement to police. McGee believes it could  also be a federal crime if the call is placed from one state to another.

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