Nebraska Criminal & Trial Lawyers
Think Carefully Before Engaging in an Online Prank

Think Carefully Before Engaging in an Online Prank

People who play online games or debate hot topics like politics and religion are aware that the Internet can be a contentious place. It can be easy for Nebraska residents to get sucked into an online argument and forget that real people are behind what one sees on the monitor. While it is one thing to debate opinions in a chat room, some activity that begins online can cross over into the real world and become a crime.

A prank called “swatting” is a perfect example of the type of behavior that Internet users will want to steer clear of. In a recent case that made national headlines, a man from Wichita, Kansas, was killed after a swatting prank gone terribly wrong. CNN reported that a Los Angeles, California, resident called authorities and posed as the Kansas man, saying that he was holding family members hostage after killing his father. Officers fatally shot the unsuspecting man at his home when they mistakenly thought he was reaching for a weapon.

Exactly what is swatting? According to The New York Times, an online argument or a difference in opinion often precedes this prank, during which one person contacts authorities and makes a false report to draw swat teams or large numbers of law enforcement to an innocent target. Not only is it a crime to make a false police report, but pranksters can face additional charges if someone is harmed.

In the case of the prankster from Los Angeles, he is facing felony charges. It may be tempting to believe an online prank is a victimless joke, but officials take swatting seriously, and it can result in grave consequences.

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