Anyone can make a mistake that results in criminal charges, but younger people are especially vulnerable to participating in actions they do not realize can have serious consequences, especially if their peers influence them. South Carolina residents who spend time gaming or in online discussions should understand the potential ramifications of a not-so-harmless prank called swatting.
Swatting is a retaliatory prank that is common among people who play online games and get into debates on the internet. According to authorities, the prank gets its name from the likelihood of armed law enforcement or SWAT team members arriving at the target’s home. A swatting prank usually proceeds as follows:
- An online argument ensues.
- The “swatter” gives police a false report, usually claiming to be the swatting target and admitting to committing a violent crime in the home.
- Law enforcement shows up at the unwitting target’s residence, often demanding entry and searching for weapons and signs of criminal activity.
Other common targets for swatting pranks include government agencies, schools, celebrities and political figures. Those who engage in this activity often believe it is a harmless way to get revenge on someone who has made them angry. However, as an event from last December showed, swatting is anything but harmless.
After law enforcement showed up at the address a swatter from California provided, the police mistakenly thought the unsuspecting man who answered the door was pulling out a weapon, and they shot and killed him. Law enforcement arrested the man who called authorities and two others who were involved in the online gaming argument.
It is easy to see how peers may mislead younger people into thinking swatting is a humorous prank without consequences. However, as the above example shows, it is not only illegal to make a false report to authorities, but this type of joke can easily spiral out of control and result in penalties that young people may never expect.