A distress call allegedly sent out by a yacht — called “Blind Date”– off the coast of Sandy Hook yesterday looks like a hoax… one that cost tax payers and emergency responders hundreds of thousands of dollars.
NJ.com reports that the expensive prank call “resembles the phony SWAT-hostage calls that have become an increasingly widespread problem around the country.” While authorities searched for the yacht, 85 House Republicans sent a letter to the U.S. attorney general Eric Holder and demanded the Justice Department investigate recent incidents of “SWAT-ting.”
The article notes another disturbing incident that occurred in Morristown a few years ago:
A terrified caller told police his grandmother was holding a shotgun to his sister’s head at an apartment complex where he was hiding in a bathroom. Under the cover of night, dozens of police officers and crisis negotiators surrounded the house. Turned out that was a hoax, too. Luckily, no one was injured — or killed. Evidently, the prankster had used a hacking method known as “caller-ID spoofing” to make it appear that the call had come from that particular address.
House Republicans suggest in their letter that SWAT-ting is, “quickly becoming a scare tactic used against political bloggers, essentially stifling those bloggers’ First Amendment rights.” Widely accessible technology and hacking methods have made it easier to stage these hoaxes.
Whatever the motivations behind SWAT-ting are, prank calls have never been so elaborate and costly as this.