Watching a ‘Swatting’ slowly unfold within sight of the Boston Marathon starting line

Approaching the center of town to pick up pizza last night, I saw a half-dozen police vehicles blocking off Main Street. I pulled into a parking lot both to figure out how to get to our dinner and to find out what was going on.

The instant a bystander told me what he had heard, I knew this police operation was almost certainly the result of a hoax known as Swatting, which starts with a fake 911 call reporting a non-existent life-threatening situation. It’s become an epidemic of late, targeting celebrities and online gamers, in particular.

While police had no choice but to take the threat seriously – more on that in a minute — I was confident this was a hoax for two reasons: I have been reporting on the topic recently and the rumored details of the 911 call seemed far-fetched: a man claimed to be holed up in the closed Hopkinton Public Library with two hostages and a bomb. (Not only did I believe this was a Swatting, I said it out loud, so the editor of a local news site called HopNews decided I was worth interviewing.)

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Network World Paul McNamara