Georgia officials among victims of serious prank calls

Dec 29, 2023

More than a half dozen Georgia lawmakers and several other politicians across the country were victims of prank 911 calls this week.

The politicians, their families, homes, property or offices experienced what’s commonly known as “swatting” — a crime that carries, depending on the severity of the event, a term of up to life in prison, especially if injury or death occurs. Swatting is punishable by federal law under the “Interstate Swatting Hoax Act” which was passed by Congress in 2015.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr called the incidents “detestable.”

“Regardless of whether the targets are public officials, private citizens, Republicans or Democrats, these are not harmless pranks,” Carr said on X. “They are dangerous crimes that could result in serious injury to all involved. Anytime law enforcement has to pursue a hoax, they are taken away from keeping people safe. My office has communicated with our law enforcement partners and stand ready to assist as appropriate.”

So what exactly is swatting?

Swatting occurs when a false report of a crime — such as a shooting is reported to emergency services such as 911. Other allegations could include domestic abuse or hostage situations, crimes that prompt a massive response of heavily armed law enforcement such as Special Weapons and Tactics or SWAT teams to a specific location. Hence, the term swatting.

Starting on Christmas and several days after, Georgia legislators reported having their homes surrounded by legions of police after emergency operators received calls of disturbances and crimes at those lawmakers’ homes. 

The group of lawmakers who were victims of the hoax include Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and state senators John Albers, Clint Dixon, Kim Jackson and Kay Kirkpatrick. The pranks didn’t stop there. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and property belonging to U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock reported also being swatted. 

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost as well as Boston Mayor Michelle Wu also fell victim to the hoax. Earlier this month, Ohio lawmakers passed a package of criminal justice bills that includes making swatting a felony.  

No one was reported hurt in any of the incidents.

Have questions? Contact Tammy Joyner on X @lvjoyner or at [email protected].

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