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-   -   Gamers send revenge police in dangerous "swatting" hoax (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=89280)

Gutter Monkey 24 April 2014 06:43 AM

Gamers send revenge police in dangerous "swatting" hoax
 
Quote:

Law enforcers in the US are reporting a rise in the ridiculous game of "swatting", which this week saw dramatic scenes as heavily-armed police raided a home in Long Beach after reports a teenager inside had killed his mother and was threatening to shoot more people.

The emergency was sparked after a 911 call by a person claiming to be 17-year-old Rafael Castillo who authorities would later learn was the victim of a revenge attack by a disgruntled Call of Duty gamer who Mr Castillo had just defeated.

The swatting prank sees online gamers trying to find the personal details of who has just beaten them and create the most havoc they can manage.
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/technolog...swatting-craze

In this case the hoax call initiated a 2 hour "stand off" because the unsuspecting gamer inside the house was still wearing his headphones and had no idea there were 60 police officers outside his home.

I've got a feeling that the person who called in the hoax is really going to regret it sometime soon when the police track him down.

Rebochan 24 April 2014 10:03 AM

Uh...despite the article's attempt to claim this is a trend started by gamers, and the story claiming there are "points"...it's quite a bit overblown, something I picked up on with a few seconds of google.

Seriously, the second I hear "gamers" and "points" in a news article, my BS detector goes wild. According to the FBI, this isn't even new - they were getting cases of it as far back as 2002.

Still, I did notice a lot of hits on Call of Duty swatting...so I'm going to chalk this up less to gamers and more pissed off teenagers doing something that is apparently really easy to try and show how "bad ass" they are.

FullMetal 25 April 2014 07:49 PM

the real problem with these are the copy-cat ones that come about...
http://www.630ched.com/2014/04/25/sw...monton-police/

this was the first I heard about it this morning. apparently it was on the radio yesterday about the article above, and then it happened here...

Rebochan 28 April 2014 05:28 AM

Quote:

Points are awarded for how many swat officers respond and whether they have armoured cars or helicopters with them.
"Gamers use points, don't you see?!" Seriously, who would be awarding these points anyway? There's not some grand high council of points, and I highly doubt that there's some organized swatting council that doles out "points" based on something that you wouldn't be able to verify unless you actually lived close enough to see the event happen (doubtful given how you'd be really stupid to pull this when you lived down the street.)

The article's link to the FBI's page on this is also devoid of the claim that there are "points" awarded. Also that it's a "gamer" thing. Seriously, if it's so simple that a bunch of kids can pull it off, clearly the real problem is why the hell has an obvious security breach not been dealt with in the intervening ten years?

A Turtle Named Mack 28 April 2014 02:40 PM

The 'points' system is little different than the jokes my generation used to make based on Death Race 2000 in the late 70s when seeing pedestrians in vulnerable positions. I never heard of anyone actually swerving to hit pedestrians to score points though.

As for how it started, yes, SWAT-ting arose apart from gamers - or at least not associated with gaming (the people who previously did it may have also been gamers). And even SWATting is essentially just a dangerous extension of the older prank of ordering pizza or otherwise engaging unwanted services in someone else's name. It is not surprising that tech-savvy youngsters would pick up on this as a way of amusing themselves/causing havoc/getting revenge.

Mouse 29 April 2014 12:51 AM

This sounds like the Knock-Out game or the drinking hand sanitizer bit where the actions of a few idiot teens were made out to be a nationwide trend.

erwins 29 April 2014 12:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rebochan (Post 1818675)
Seriously, if it's so simple that a bunch of kids can pull it off, clearly the real problem is why the hell has an obvious security breach not been dealt with in the intervening ten years?

What security breach are you referring to?

ganzfeld 29 April 2014 05:10 AM

Everyone knows the secret code for calling the police. (I'm not going to reprint it here but if you add up all the digits, it makes eleven.)

Rebochan 29 April 2014 09:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by erwins (Post 1818833)
What security breach are you referring to?

This whole thing is pulled off by spoofing other people's numbers.

I actually mentioned this to a friend of mine and he explained how simple it was to me. To the point where a script kiddie can just download a program that does the spoofing for them, requiring no real intimate knowledge of computers or phones for that matter.

ganzfeld 29 April 2014 12:48 PM

There's a tremendous difference between a security breach and a system that was never secure because it was never meant to be.

Singing in the Drizzle 29 April 2014 04:25 PM

I do not know if the phone companies have done anything to improve their security since the 80s. At that time it use to be a unlisted number and a call to the FBI if things started acting funny. Yes, a person could call a number with there modem and with a little programing knowledge reprogram the phone system.

Right now I'm wondering what it would take to spoof a 911 call location. Because I do not think a person making a call from Texas can easily convince the local 911 operator that they know what is happen in someone house in New York. Even if they can I would not think the police would not first check things out first especially coming from a question source located out of town. Then there is the possibility the state law enforcement is just making sure they use up the SWAT budget to justify its existence and get more money next budget.

Gutter Monkey 29 April 2014 04:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Singing in the Drizzle (Post 1818928)
Right now I'm wondering what it would take to spoof a 911 call location. Because I do not think a person making a call from Texas can easily convince the local 911 operator that they know what is happen in someone house in New York. Even if they can I would not think the police would not first check things out first especially coming from a question source located out of town. Then there is the possibility the state law enforcement is just making sure they use up the SWAT budget to justify its existence and get more money next budget.

Here's a news article from 2012 that shows how easy it is to successfully spoof a 911 call. If someone rings up and says "I'm [XXXXX] and I just shot my wife, my address is [XXXX]" the dispatcher is going to send officers to the address immediately and not stop and call the phone company to verify whether the caller ID was genuine.

UEL 29 April 2014 04:50 PM

Here, it has been in the news about 911 and various calling methods. VOIP, for example, is notoriously hard to nail down a physical location.

The Emergency Response system is justifiably concerned in that if 911 is dialled, and the person on the other end does not know, or is unable to give, their location (eg, person suffering heart attack, or child on the phone) then the dispatcher will not have a solid address to send emergency services.

Cell phones are similar problem, but different technical solutions.

I do know that when my Dad had his business up and running, he had a VOIP phone that allowed him an Ontario number while living in Alberta. If you looked up his exchange through reverse lookup, you would get a house near Kingston, Ontario, meanwhile his physical address was near Edmonton, Alberta. It was good for his business, but not so good for his location if he dialled 911.

Singing in the Drizzle 29 April 2014 05:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gutter Monkey (Post 1818929)
Here's a news article from 2012 that shows how easy it is to successfully spoof a 911 call. If someone rings up and says "I'm [XXXXX] and I just shot my wife, my address is [XXXX]" the dispatcher is going to send officers to the address immediately and not stop and call the phone company to verify whether the caller ID was genuine.

My experiences calling 911 have been that they know where I'm calling from and the number used as soon as they receive the call or within a couple of minutes with a cell phone. So it must be a local call for what they are saying to work because they will quickly have the phone number used to call and its location. Though they may not bother to check things out when they were not looking right.

Now think that if I'm a pissed off gamer somewhere in the world and want to SWAT someone I ether need to be near by the persons residence when I place the call, trick the 911 operator into ignoring the information in front of them or somehow spoof the calls location.

erwins 29 April 2014 06:41 PM

In my experience, dispatchers will get cell phone locations, though, depending on the phone and system, they might only be able to get the location by what towers are being used and not via GPS. It's still a pretty good check to see if the person is where they say they are vs somewhere across the country.

But if the caller's location isn't available, or is somehow spoofed, dispatchers will do what they normally do. If the caller gives their name and location, and gives information indicating that they have a basis for knowing about what they are reporting, the police legally can rely on the information, and if it turns out to be a false report, the person making the call can be prosecuted for making a false report, etc.

Lainie 29 April 2014 06:56 PM

It's not unheard of for genuine emergencies to be called in by people from other locations.

erwins 29 April 2014 06:58 PM

Yep. If the dispatcher can tell, hopefully the caller can explain. I would guess that even if they suspect a hoax, they might at least send someone out to check on things.

Singing in the Drizzle 29 April 2014 07:45 PM

Whether a hoax or not I would expect the police to at least check on things before sending in a SWAT team. They could be waiting on stand by if needed.

Lainie, my grandfather was saved by a relative making 911 call from half way across the country when they release he was having a stroke as they were talking to him on the phone. The dispatcher had to transfer and explain things to the local 911 to get the emergence crew out to him. But getting a call from half way across the country saying that a teenager shot his mother and is threating others does need some investigating before calling in the SWAT team.

erwins 29 April 2014 07:54 PM

You can't always have regular police check things out before sending SWAT. If a situation calls for SWAT, that's going to be who goes.

ganzfeld 30 April 2014 12:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lainie (Post 1818968)
It's not unheard of for genuine emergencies to be called in by people from other locations.

That's right. People have been blaming the spoofability of caller ID, a system that was never meant to be secure. Other people might blame the phone companies for not implementing secure caller ID. But no one has actually determined how many of these calls are actually being spoofed or if emergency services responds (or even should respond) any differently when they can't verify the location of the caller.


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