Home News 'Swatting' pranksters have found a new victim

'Swatting' pranksters have found a new victim


Practical jokers have found a new way to make their practical jokes an instant public spectacle by picking on a new type of victim: video gamers who play live on the Internet in front of vast audiences.

According to The New York Times, there are thousands of gamers who use popular live online video services to entertain the masses and make money doing it. However, the cameras make them vulnerable to practical jokers, giving the trouble makers the perfect opportunity to indulge in “swatting” and watch chaos unfold.

James Clayton Eubanks understands the dilemma firsthand. He said he has been swatted six times while streaming his Call of Duty sessions.

“With the live-streaming platforms, it amplifies the entire situations,” he said. “Not only do they get to do this and cause this misery, they get to watch it unfold in front of thousands of people.”

Eubanks remembers the first time the police showed up at his home, pointing assault rifles in his face. Officers were responding to an anonymous 911 call stating he had a bomb and was holding hostages in his West Virginia home. Ultimately it was determined Eubanks was the victim of a prank. It was the first of many instances that would occur over the next few months.

“I was desensitized to it after the first couple of times,” Eubanks said. “It got to the point where it was more annoying than scary.”

The New York Times reported that gamers are among the most avid live streamers around, so much so that Amazon bought their favored broadcasting service, Twitch, last year for around $1 billion.

“It’s one of those things where this is fun for them just like video games are fun for us,” said Hector Rodriguez, owner of a professional Call of Duty team, OpTic Gaming, whose players have been swatted numerous times while live-streaming at their play site outside of Chicago. “It’s a hobby. That’s what makes them smile.”

The FBI said it doesn’t have any statistics on swatting as tallying all the calls is difficult. However, reports of such calls have become more and more common. Last year, the issue became more prevalent as more prominent figures have been targeted.

Richard Beary, President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said police departments around the country have noted that swatting is on the rise. In addition to the potential for physical harm, he said, the calls divert resources from local governments and tie up law enforcement officers when they may be needed for true emergencies.

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