For those who don’t know, SWATting is the practice of falsifying a serious police call in order to send the police to a third party’s house. The calls usually include a murder, hostage situation, or bomb threat, prompting police to arrive with heavy weapons to an innocent person’s home. The most susceptible victims of these crimes are Twitch streamers and YouTube personalities, as their fanbase can sometimes include hackers and other people who are more predisposed to this “prank” phenomenon. SWATting is a huge problem in the community, and legislature is being pushed to address the problem and hopefully deter others from doing it.
While YouTubers and streamers are the most likely victims of SWATting, that does not mean they are exclusively the victims. Other prevalent personalities have been the victims of these attacks, with some even being in a position to change the laws that govern this type of behavior. While the culprit may think that this is all in good fun, there are serious consequences to some of these cases. People have been arrested and seriously harmed in the process, as these victims are unaware of why police were targeting them.
15. Jacob Neumann
A 16-year-old who was hosting a Minecraft server from his Kingston, Washington house, noticed a troll on the server causing havoc for the other players. He kicked the player off of the server, but started to receive messages from him stating that he would SWAT his house. Neumann thought this was only trash talk, so he paid it no mind. Soon enough, though, a call was placed to the local police department, stating that they were hiding in the bathroom and that Neumann’s father had just shot and killed his sister. Police entered and handcuffed the family, only to find that the sister was nonexistent and the call was a hoax. This and other incidents have lead local authorities to crack-down on such behavior, and have sparked possible legislative changes.
14. Alexander Wachs
Streamer and YouTube personality Alexander Wachs, AKA Whiteboy7thst, was streaming the game Day Z when he abruptly left his chair and ran off-camera. His viewers were confused until they saw a police officer enter the frame with a dog in tow. An anonymous tip had been placed, giving Wachs’ address and saying there was a bomb on the premises. Usually, these types of instances end after the police find out that they’ve been duped, but this went even further. While searching the home, the police dog found a stash of marijuana, and police charged Wachs and his roommate with felony possession. Fortunately for the two, all charges were dropped in the case due to the circumstances in which the drugs were found. Wachs has been particularly susceptible to being SWATted in the past, so hopefully he is able to work with his local police station to prevent any further attacks in the future.
13. Jeff Curro
Jeff Curro is every Howard Stern fan’s drunk uncle, and is known by his on-air name “Jeff the Drunk” for his apparent alcoholism. Curro first called The Howard Stern Show in 1992, and has since been embraced by the Stern fanbase and become a member of the Wack Pack, regularly making an appearance on the program. Curro had long had his phone number on his website, so that Stern fans could call him if they wanted. This backfired in 2015, as he was SWATted twice in one day. The calls weren’t as extreme as some others, with the caller first claiming Curro had fallen and was unable to stand and the second claiming that Curro had overdosed on drugs. Both times, the police were sent away without incident, and Curro quickly turned to Periscope to tell his story. He got a bit of satisfaction when he posted the caller’s phone number online, allowing Howard Stern’s fans to do the rest.
Calvin Lee Vail, better known as LeafyisHere, is a popular and provocative YouTube personality that many of you may have heard of. He makes commentary and insult videos, and many consider him to have crossed the line many times in the past, even making fun of the mentally disabled in his videos. His fanbase is rabid, and are known for harassing and even SWATting other YouTubers who Leafy mentions in his videos. Leafy now lives in Washington, but when he was living in his hometown of Layton, Utah, he was SWATted quite a few times. He was SWATted so many times that the local police became aware of hit YouTube channel, and the fact that he may be susceptible to these kind of attacks. Reports ranged from bomb threats to active shooters in his home, but no one was ever physically harmed during police intervention. The motives of the perpetrators have never been explicit, though it’s understood that Leafy’s provocative content has the ability to get a (sometimes large) percentage of the YouTube community fired-up.
11. Joshua Peters
Joshua Peters is a US Air Force veteran who now streams full-time under the username, Koopatroopa787. He was streaming Runescape to a large audience when he appeared distracted from something off-camera. He told his stream that police had showed up to his house, and went to see what was going on. When he returned, he saw that someone had posted his address in the Twitch chat, prompting another user to SWAT him. Peters gave a tearful account of what had happened, saying that police had pointed guns at his 10-year-old little brother. He pleaded with his audience not to let this happen again, and has since advocated for privacy and caution for other streamers and YouTube personalities. It was clear from his reaction that Peters was shaken, and shows that what kind of psychological damage this kind of prank can do.
10. Bungee Executive
Bungee is the video game studio that has brought us such titles as Halo and Destiny, two of the finer video games of our time. One early morning, the police were called to a house of a man who said he was holding people hostage with an assault rifle. The man was demanding $20,000 in cash or he would murder his hostages. This lead to police surrounding the home at 4AM with guns drawn. The standoff lasted for 45 minutes, after which it became apparent that the whole thing was a hoax. The Bungee executive’s name was never made public, as he requested anonymity throughout the process. The person who placed the call still hasn’t been discovered, but if they are found they are facing a year in prison for their conduct.
Deji Olatunji, or ComedyShortsGamer, is a popular YouTuber with nearly eight million subscribers. His older brother is another popular YouTuber who goes by the name KSI. Anyone who is a fan of ComedyShortsGamer or KSI knows that they and their neighbor have frequent fights about the noise level when they are filming (as well as other trivial neighborly quarrels). The Olatunjis live in a wealthy neighborhood, and their neighbor is portrayed as a stuck-up jerk in many of Deji’s videos. One day, when ComedyShortsGamer was filming a video that involved a paintball gun, his neighbor called the police and reported that the YouTube star was killing someone in his backyard. Police arrived with guns drawn, which is extremely out of the ordinary for many cases in the UK. No one was hurt or arrested, and Deji posted a video about how the police were nice and understanding about the situation. Still, someone could have been seriously hurt, and Deji had nothing nice to say about his neighbor in the same video.
8. Justine Roberts
Justine Roberts is the founder of the popular forum Mumsnet, a parenting website that offers advice and stories of parenting. For seemingly unknown reasons, Roberts was the victim of a SWATting attack in her home in the UK. A call was placed to authorities that there was a gunman in the area, prompting them to take action. Roberts was not the only person associated with Mumsnet to be SWATted, as multiple other members had their homes raided in a similar fashion. The culprit behind these attacks appears to be the hacker collective “Dad Security.” This group has also been behind multiple DDoS attacks on the site, shutting it down for hours at a time. The hackers have obtained addresses and passwords of those on the site, so Mumsnet has advised that users take extra precautions in light of the circumstances.
7. Eric Erickson
Conservative blogger Eric Erickson has stated that he has been the frequent victim of the so-called SWATting prank epidemic, but has typically been able to diffuse situations before they escalate. The worst of the Erickson’s experiences came on May 27, 2012, when a call was placed to the local police department, claiming to be a man in his home who just shot his wife. The caller stated that we would certainly kill more people if he wasn’t arrested. This prompted the police to surround Erickson’s home with guns drawn. The situation was eventually determined a hoax, and no one was harmed. With this and other instances in mind, Erickson was motivated to push congressional leaders into perusing harsher punishment for the perpetrators of these pranks. While no clear motivation was discovered, it is believed that Erickson’s outspoken political beliefs are what prompted someone to place this false call to police.
SWATting is a big problem in the YouTube and Twitch communities, and popular League of Legends streamer Trick2g was seemingly a victim during his 24 hour live stream celebrating his 800,000 follower goal. When Trick2g was wrapping up his stream, he read in the comments that the police were at his house. Two police then burst into his garage, and after ducking a punch from the streamer, pinned him down and handcuffed him. Trick2g was known for his eccentric behavior in front of the camera, so it only came as a partial surprise to his fans when it was revealed that he staged the entire incident. The police were paid actors, and Trick2g was giving his fans and exciting and interesting ending to his 24 hour stream. Twitch, though, was not amused, and issued Trick2g an indefinite ban from their website. They lifted the ban among backlash from his supporters, but many people condemn Trick2g for glorifying the practice of SWATting, as it may encourage others. His supporters claim that he was simply providing entertainment to his fans, and a riveting way to end a live stream.
5. Lil Wayne
Rapper Lil Wayne needs no introduction, unlike many of the other lesser-known streamers on this list. You don’t have to be invested in Hip Hop to know the work of Lil Wayne, but the rapper was a victim of a SWATting attack in his Florida mansion. A man called police, claiming to have killed four people and told them that he was currently in the location that was Lil Wayne’s house. Police, complete with canines arrived at his mansion and searched the residence. It became clear that the call was a hoax, and luckily Lil Wayne was not on the property when it happened. Police still haven’t found who made the call, as this type of behavior is a felony in Florida. This just goes to show you, it doesn’t matter if you’re a streamer in your parent’s basement or a multi-millionaire and rap superstar: everyone is vulnerable to these type of attacks.
Kootra, AKA Jordan Mathewson, is a Twitch streamer who streams out of the office of his collective “Creatures.” He was finishing up a stream of the popular video game Counter-Strike Global Offensive, when he began to hear noises coming from the office. He initially didn’t think anything of it, as recording videos often makes a lot of noise. He then believed he heard some police, and connected the dots pretty quickly. As the police were entering his office, he took off his headphones and put his hands up. The police entered, threw him to the ground and began to search the area. They propped Mathewson in a chair and began to ask him questions. The call placed to police had stated that Mathewson was armed and holding his office hostage, which became evidently false as police secured the office. Mathewson explained that some jokester probably thought it would be funny to call the police on him. Mathewson took it in stride, and didn’t appear too shaken in his following remarks to his fans.
3. Ted Lieu
Ted Lieu is a California state representative and the author of California’s anti-SWATting bill. During his publicized involvement of combating SWATters, Lieu himself was the victim of a SWATting case. An anonymous call was placed to the police department, giving Lieu’s address and saying that he just shot his wife. Police surrounded the home, which only contained Lieu’s wife who was still in bed. Police removed his wife and searched his home, eventually determining that the call was a hoax. Lieu was informed of the situation, and commended police for their delicacy and professionalism in the case. This instance motivated Lieu even further, who pushed the bill through and ensured it became a law, protecting others from the same crime he was a victim of.
2. Chris Brown
Popular artist Chris Brown has made a lot of enemies over the past. Apart from his recent boxing match with Soulja Boy being cancelled, a lot of people were rightly outraged at Brown’s conduct with his ex-girlfriend Rihanna. It was widely reported that Chris Brown beat Rihanna, and Brown was sentenced to five years probation for assault on the pop star. In January of 2013, one person took it into their own hands to bring Brown to justice, as they called police and reported a domestic violence altercation in Brown’s home. Police responded and searched the area, only to find that there was no altercation and Brown was not home. The call was determined to be a hoax, but the community was split in reaction to the instance. Many people jumped to his defense, while other suggested that the singer may have deserved something like this due to his history of domestic violence.
1. Tyran Dobbs
Instances of SWATting are usually handled swiftly, with the only real victim being the taxpayer and the police’s valuable time. This was not the case, however, in the SWATting of Tyran Dobbs. A call was placed to the Elliot City police department, with the caller claiming to be Dobbs and stating that he had three people hostage. The caller claimed that if he didn’t receive $15,000, he would execute the three hostages. When police arrived, they contacted Dobbs’ father who informed them that he didn’t know what his son’s intentions were, but that there was a gun in the apartment. Police saw Dobbs through a sliding door in his apartment, and ordered him to come out with his hands up. When he moved to retreat, an officer shot Dobbs in the head with a rubber bullet.
As police evacuated the three women in the apartment, they smelled the distinct smell of marijuana. It was determined that Dobbs, unaware of the hostage call that was made in his name, was hiding from the police because he didn’t want to be arrested for the drugs. Dobbs survived, and required multiple surgeries to repair his nose. The FBI is attempting to find the person who placed the call, as they are planning to charge them with a federal offense.