Last December, a tragic incident made national news when a man made a fake phone call to authorities, claiming to be another man and saying he shot his father and had family members held hostage. Police took the call seriously and showed up at the second man’s home, fatally shooting him when they mistakenly believed he reached for a firearm. This is a prank known as swatting, and it is important for you and other Wisconsin residents to understand the potential consequences of making a false report to authorities.
You may have heard about swatting already – in this prank, someone makes a fake report to police, usually claiming that another person has weapons or has committed a violent crime. Authorities show up at the unsuspecting target’s home, despite the prank victim having done nothing wrong. This prank often occurs after an online argument, but it is anything but harmless.
In the case mentioned above, the man made the swatting call after a dispute during an online computer game. Authorities later claimed the victim had no connection to the game and were unsure why he was targeted. The man who called police is facing felony charges. Usually, a swatting prank is cleared up after the initial confusion, but as you can see, sometimes this joke can go terribly wrong.
Not a joke
You might feel pressured to take part in a swatting prank by your online friends, or you could become angry enough with someone to get back at them by making a false call to authorities. Before doing so, understand that it is more than an inconvenience for officers to respond to such a call, and this prank can have serious and unintended results. Additionally, if authorities trace the prank back to you, you can face severe penalties.
People sometimes make mistakes, especially if they believe that they are participating in a harmless joke. You have the right to defend yourself if you are facing charges resulting from your online activity.