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Can a swatting prank send you to jail?

You may remember an incident that occurred last December, in which a man from Los Angeles reportedly made a phone call to authorities in Kansas claiming to have killed his father, and that he was holding other relatives hostage with weapons. Armed law enforcement showed up at the unsuspecting man’s residence in Wichita, and they shot and killed him when they mistook an innocent gesture as him reaching for a weapon. Florida residents need to understand the grave consequences they can face for playing a prank that is becoming common among internet users.

This prank is known as “swatting.” As you may know, it involves someone making a false call to police or other authorities to lure armed officials to an innocent person’s address.

A deadly mistake

Internet activity is not the only trigger for swatting, but most pranks of this nature appear to result from online gaming disputes or arguments over social media. You can also predict that in many cases, the prank can go terribly wrong. Pranksters may not have intended for someone to suffer harm, but sending a group of armed authorities to an unsuspecting person’s home is a recipe for disaster.

According to Vox, the Los Angeles man is facing manslaughter charges, as well as charges for making a false police report. The incident allegedly stemmed from a dispute over an online multiplayer game, although the victim had not been involved in the game.

An age group at risk

You may understand that making a false call to authorities can result in serious penalties; however, teenagers and young adults might not be as wise. This age group is also known for spending large amounts of time online. An incident like the one above can be a good starting point to speak with your kids or grandchildren about the potential consequences of swatting.

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Jason Rogozinski

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