A prank known as "swatting" struck an innocent Colorado man on Wednesday, and authorities say he's just the latest victim in an alarming new trend in which phone hackers call in threats that prompt a response from the SWAT team.
Jordan Mathewson said that high-profile videogamers like himself are common targets of swatting, and told ABC Denver
that he knew "almost right away" that he'd been pranked while broadcasting an online gaming session to his 220,000 Twitter followers and 700,000 YouTube subscribers.
The SWAT team busted into his office, and his webcam captured the entire incident — which saw Mathewson raise his hands and be pushed to the floor face down.
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"Uh oh, this isn't good," he says in the video as the black-clad troops pour into the room. "They're clearing rooms. What in the world? I think we're getting swatted."
Along with gamers, celebrities have also become frequent victims of swatting. Tom Cruise, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Ryan Seacrest, and Anderson Cooper have all had SWAT teams storm their homes after false threats were phone in.
Cybercriminals set up the prank by hacking caller ID systems, calling 911 from other people's phone numbers, and disappearing without a trace after a target has been successfully swatted. In Mathewson's case, the caller reportedly told police the gamer had just shot multiple people, according to ABC News.
"I don't know what would drive somebody to do something like that, other than the fact that they get to kinda see the outcome live on the [broadcast] stream," said Mathewson. "They get to see all this go down right before their eyes and, you know, it's fun to them."
Not only does a SWAT threat disrupt and endanger the target and anyone else who might be in the same building, but oftentimes — as was the case in this most recent swatting — nearby schools are put on lockdown.
After the raid, Littleton police released a statement, saying "If the investigation determines that today’s incident was a hoax, those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
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