EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The FBI is warning members of the Borderland to beware of a dangerous scheme known as “swatting.”
“Swatting” is when a hoax call is made to lure emergency services to a location by claiming there is a threat to human life.
“These incidents typically produce the deployment of a S.W.A.T. team, a bomb team, a specific law enforcement unit,” says Paul Davis, Supervisory Special Agent in Charge of Cyber Crimes at the FBI Division in El Paso.
Davis says criminals gain access to smart security devices like home cameras with speaker systems by spoofing emails and phone numbers.
“What makes it a swatting event and not a hoax,” says Davis, “is these individuals use technology in an effort to obfuscate their identities so that they cannot be identified,” says Davis.
The FBI is working in collaboration with private sector partners who make smart security devices to warn customers about swatting schemes, while also advising consumers how to avoid being victimized.
Most often, says Davis, swatting occurs out of an urge for revenge.
“They’re looking for a little bit of notoriety,” says Davis.
“They’re looking to exact revenge on a victim or location.”
Swatters will make the hoax call, and then watch the scene unfold on their victims as law enforcement responds. The FBI says that sometimes swat offenders will livestream the even for others to watch.
El Paso has been subject to swatting incidents over the last few months.
“Probably in the last few months, I’d say that we’ve had at least two here in El Paso,” says Davis.
To learn more about or report swatting, click here.