Hoaxers increasingly going online to threaten schools

School Threats Swatting_307528

FILE – In this Dec. 15, 2015, file photo, a gate to Birmingham Community Charter High School in Van Nuys, Calif., is locked with a sign stating that school is closed following an electronic threat to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Hoaxers are increasingly going online to threaten attacks against U.S. schools. The threats […]

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Hoaxers are increasingly using sophisticated online tools to threaten attacks against U.S. schools – and the suspects aren’t just students looking to get out of a final exam.

The threats are a type of “swatting,” or reporting a phony emergency to bring SWAT teams rushing to the scene. The culprits include online gamers. They are using tools like proxy servers, virtual private networks and computer-generated voices to hide their identities.

The resulting law enforcement investigations are onerous and often require the assistance of the FBI.

Swatting emerged around 2007. In one case, authorities investigating a threat made at a middle school in Flagstaff, Arizona, found their suspect in a 29-year-old New Yorker who they say called in threats to score “points” in an online game.

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