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A 13-year-old boy from Southern California has confessed to sicking the SWAT team on three people, including one of his Minecraft rivals.
In an interview with Ars Technica, Ventura County Sheriff Gene Martinez acknowledged that the boy was responsible for three separate swatting incidents. Two of the victims were familiar to the boy (one was a classmate, and the other was a teacher). And the third was a New Jersey-based Minecraft player who reportedly butted heads with the defendant.
Also, one of the calls incorporated a hostage situation and a bomb threat. Yup. This kid, who's barely a teenager, called in a bomb threat on a suburban neighborhood. He even included a ransom demand.
Here's how Detective Martinez described the bomb threat:
[During] the Camarillo incident, there were 20-plus officers there. I was at that call. We basically surrounded the house. The caller reported there were 10 hostages in the house and demanded $30,000 in cash or he would blow up the house. Whenever there is a hostage situation, we activate specialized units to respond.
Why would he do this? Well, according to Martinez, "he felt he was wronged."
Because the boy is a minor, his identity hasn't been released to the press, and there's very little chance that he'll see the inside of a jail cell. He's already been released into his parents' custody and will eventually receive probation.
Since 2008, swatting has become increasingly common, and its probably not going to slow down anytime soon. In fact, the problem has become so pervasive, that the FBI stopped publishing statistics on the practice. They were hoping to avoid copycats.
Over the last few years, celebrities like Justin Bieber, Ryan Seacrest, and Clint Eastwood have fallen victim to the prank. And an untold number of gamers have also been on the business end of a SWAT team's battering ram.
In an effort to curb the practice, California lawmakers recently introduced a law that would force pranksters to reimburse the city for any costs occurred during the raid. And according to state Sen. Ted Lieu, the man behind the bill, one of these incidents can cost up to $10,000.
But even though ten grand is a lot of money for a 13-year-old, it still doesn't really solve the problem. Most of these pranks are carried out by people who know how to make tracking difficult, so they're probably not expecting to get busted.
So, until tracing an internet-based phone call is as easy as calling in a fake bomb threat, swatting is probably going to be an ongoing problem.