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.