Fake 911 call sends SWAT team to home of lawmaker sponsoring anti-swatting bill

The lawmaker who introduced a bill to combat swatting—the practice of misleading emergency dispatchers so that they deploy a SWAT team to an innocent person’s building—was herself swatted last night.

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) who introduced the Interstate Swatting Act last last year, told the Boston Globe that, while she was watching television with her husband Sunday night, she saw multiple police lights out her window. When she walked outside, police cruisers were blocking both ends of her street, and she was met by “multiple officers, some with long guns, on my front lawn.”

Swatting, a disturbing form of harassment popular among online trolls and hackers, is rampant within the video-game community. Clark told the Globe that she suspected the attack was retribution for her work on the issue.

Melrose Police spokesman John Guilfoil told the Globe that the department received a call from a computer-generated voice alleging “shots fired and an active shooter” at Clark’s residence.

Swatters sometimes using this robotic voice—often the same one used to help deaf people make phone calls, known as TTY—to avoid being implicated in the false allegations.

Clark’s bill, which has not yet been considered by the House Judiciary Committee, would make swatting a federal crime and let prosecutors charge the swatters with the cost of the law-enforcement response. 

Photo via Tim McAteer/Wikimedia Commons (CC SA 3.0)

William Turton

William Turton

Once named one of Forbes’ 20 Under 20 and hired as a staff writer for the Daily Dot when he was still a senior in high school, William Turton is a rising tech reporter focusing on information security, hacking culture, and politics. Since leaving the Daily Dot in April 2016, his work has appeared on Gizmodo, the Outline, and Vice News Tonight on HBO.