UK & World News

  • 28 April 2013, 10:54

Hollywood Hoax: 'End Fake 911 Calls'

Politicians in California are pushing for new laws to crack down on a growing craze targeting celebrities which they say is putting lives at risk.

Dozens of cases of so-called 'swatting' have been reported in glitzy Los Angeles neighbourhoods in recent weeks.

They have stretched police resources and led to potentially deadly confrontations.

The practice gets its name from the hoax 911 calls which report fake serious crimes in the hope of prompting a response from heavily-armed SWAT teams.

In recent weeks the homes of stars including Justin Timberlake, Ashton Kutcher, Rihanna, P Diddy and Tom Cruise have fallen victim.

News helicopters have captured dramatic footage of police teams swarming around homes with guns drawn.

Ted Lieu, the member of California's senate who represents a district including celebrity hot spots like Beverly Hills and Pacific Palisades, has proposed a bill that would increase fines and prison sentences for those convicted.

He told Sky News: "You can imagine how dangerous it might be. Say it is late at night, all these officers show up, adrenalin in pumping, they're about to draw their guns and then you have a homeowner who has no idea what is happening, maybe that homeowner has a gun.

"You can see how a miscommunication could result in injury or death.

"It leads police who have responded to these incidents to be a little bit more wary when they're responding, because it could be a fake. The one time it is not a fake it could turn out to be disastrous."

In the chilling audio of one 'swatting' call, a male voice tells the operator that he has shot and killed his wife and directs police to the address of a television personality.

'Swatters' often use technology to either disguise where they're calling from or even make it look as if they are calling from the address in question.

Already a 12-year-old boy is serving time in juvenile detention after being arrested for a high profile 'swatting' incident.

Los Angeles police department spokeswoman Sara Faden said: "Those officers that are now responding to this fraudulent call are no longer able to assist people who really need our help.

"We want to make sure that people know this is incredibly dangerous and serious and not to do it."

When police attended Timberlake's home, passengers on a passing celebrity tour bus, which had just pulled up outside, were able to photograph the whole thing.

 

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