Yesterday another let’s player was the victim of swatting, a practice where a prank caller uses internet telephony technologies to call in a fake emergency call that would bring the local SWAT team full force to an unsuspecting house.
Kootra, a member of The Creatures, got a terrible surprise when the local SWAT team busted in during a live stream guns drawn. The footage is shocking to watch, so viewer’s discretion is advised. However, Kootra isn’t the first, in fact he isn’t even the first Counter Strike let’s player targeted by this type of prank.
n0thing, a professional Counter-Strike player has been swatted more than once while streaming training matches. Outside of the competitive Counter-Strike community other let’s players have been targeted as well, such as the chilling case of Caleb Hart who was live streaming Mega Man X for charity.
When police arrived looking for what they thought was an abducted child the quickly became confused and were close to become aggressive when a donator alerted Hart to another stream of the swatter himself streaming his side of the emergency call. “I wonder if they killed his dog, did they shoot his dog?” the swatter said over his stream followed by a creepy laugh.
What is the motivation for swatting? Most swatters seem to be craving a brief moment of fame and exhibit extreme anti-social behavior patterns and are usually quite young. In Kootra’s case his swatter openly took responsibility for it on Twitter and posted a recording of him and a friend on YouTube.
ScrewPain as he’s known has even been taking interviews where he shows very little regard for his victims or the dangers involved. Most of swatting victims are in the US, as the practice takes advantage of the recent militarization local police forces have gone through after 9/11.
Typical US police procedure when entering a dangerous situation is to go “force first” to protect their own lives against a potentially armed suspect, which is exactly what swatters want.
Several states have “no-knock” warrants and police agencies around the country have been under fire for shooting first and asking questions later in normal circumstances, but when a swatter makes a call seem like the stakes are higher than normal the chances of someone getting killed become astronomical.
What can be done to prevent this? At the moment not much, as voice over IP technology has vastly outpaced the ability for agencies to trace calls, and several of the swatters who have been caught aren’t even located in America. One such swatter was arrested in Canada and had made over thirty fake emergency calls, mostly to the US, before being taken down.
What should one do if they find themselves on the wrong end of a swatting assault? Counter-Strike player n0thing stressed cooperation after several run –ins with the local bomb squad. Immediately complying and building a relationship with local law enforcement can go a long way with making sure everyone gets out of the situation unharmed.
The brunt of the responsibility to mitigate disaster will have to come from law enforcement, however.
After the Ferguson riots there has been an outcry for police to shift their policies from going into situations hard to being more cautious and focusing on diffusing situations without violence. Collecting intelligence on situations before deploying SWAT when possible prevent swattings from going too far to begin with.
Tying up emergency responders and potentially endangering their lives as well as the lives they’ve been pointed at like a weapon themselves is a major crime. Anyone thinking of getting their jollies by calling in prank emergency calls should think twice, because once they find out where you are you will be in a world of hurt, along with facing most of the rest of your life behind bars.
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