Police: Report of shooting, hostage was ‘swatting’

A report of a shooting and a hostage standoff sent state troopers to a Lancaster County home — only to find that the call was a hoax known as “swatting.”

State police in Lancaster said they responded to the Providence Township home Thursday after getting a call from a man who claimed he had shot his wife and was holding her hostage.

Once they arrived in the first block of Parkview Drive, however, police said they found the report was a prank.

The resident of the home, 34-year-old Michael Alton, told abc27 News he and his wife were watching a movie on television when several troopers showed up at his door.

Alton said he doesn’t even own a gun, but added that he respects the troopers for doing their jobs.

“I just want to know who said,” he said. “Hopefully, they find who perpetrated it and find out what’s going on.”

Police said they are following several leads and continuing to investigate the origin of the call.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines “swatting” as a hoax call to 911 to draw a response from law enforcement, usually a SWAT team.

It is sometimes done for revenge, sometimes as a prank, and those who make the prank calls often use technology to make it appear as though the emergency call came from the victim’s phone, according to an FBI report.

The FBI first warned of the phone hacking phenomenon in 2008, and since then has arrested several people on federal charges stemming from swatting incidents.

Most who engage in swatting are serial offenders who are also involved in other cyber crimes such as identity theft and credit card fraud, according to the FBI, and some want revenge on someone who angered them while video gaming online.

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