I’ve discussed Swatting before, and how stupid I think it is. Through social engineering angry or stupid (or both!) kids on the internet make hoax calls to law enforcement authorities, convincing them to send heavily armed groups of officials in to innocent people’s homes for the lulz.
It’s not only a terrible waste of resources, but it’s terribly dangerous too – all it takes is somebody making the wrong split-second decision and it could easily end up with people being wounded, or worse – killed. There’s been little repercussion for those perpetuating this sort of abuse, but one 22 year old gamer’s just found himself facing a year of jail time.
Matthew Tollis, member of a group of wayward gamers calling themselves “TeAM Crucifix or Die” was arrested last year for his part in swatting pranks involving the Boston Convention Exhibition Center, Boston University, two high schools in New Jersey and a high school in Texas has been sentenced to a year and a day’s worth of prison, he’ll also be forced to do community service.
“Swatting is not a schoolboy prank, it’s a federal crime,” said U.S. Attorney Dierdre Daly. “These hoaxes have expended critical law enforcement resources and caused severe emotional distress for thousands of victims.”
Honestly though, I don’t think it’s enough. While it’s great that swatters are finally being brought to justice, I think the penalties should be higher; not only are you endangering people’s lives by having armed men with itchy trigger fingers break down their doors, but you’re potentially diverting those people away from situations where they might actually be needed.
“The problem is these police forces when they show up, they show up heavily armed. The police force that showed up at my home wasn’t a SWAT team, but had automatic weapons,” said Brian Krebs, who runs a Krebs on Security and was a victim of Swatting himself.
“These situations can get very intense very quickly,” he said. “These guys come in and they’re pumped. They’re ready to respond to a high energy intense situation and their fingers are on the trigger. This is going to be a bad situation at some point when they kick in a door and somebody is defending their home.”
This swatting nonsense needs to stop. The next time I hear SWAT on a game site, I want it to be because Sierra (or Activision’s the case may be) is publishing a new one.
Last Updated: October 12, 2015