Authorities Dismiss Fake JetBlue Hijacking Report at LaGuardia Airport
The occasional prank call to a friend or family member can be funny, but "swatting" — the practice of reporting a fake emergency in hopes of generating a heavy police or SWAT team response — is anything but.
Fortunately, Port Authority police were able to discredit a pair of bogus reports claiming that JetBlue flights at New York's LaGuardia Airport were set to be hijacked Tuesday.
Authorities told the New York Daily News they found holes in the threats presented by the 911 calls.
"The information received from the caller had inaccuracies as to destinations, etc.," Port Authority spokesman Joe Pentangelo told the Daily News. "There was no disruption of service."
As of Tuesday, police were still looking to track down the caller.
Swatting is a serious crime, and one the Federal Bureau of Investigation began warning about as early as 2008. "The FBI looks at these crimes as a public safety issue," said assistant special agent Kevin Kolbye in September 2013 via the FBI's official website. "It’s only a matter of time before somebody gets seriously injured as a result of one of these incidents."
In addition to putting authorities and the public at risk, a single incident can cost thousands of dollars in a scenario where a SWAT team is called to the scene.
"The FBI takes swatting very seriously," added Kolbye. "Working closely with industry and law enforcement partners, we continue to refine our technological capabilities and our investigative techniques to stop the thoughtless individuals who commit these crimes."
The FBI has made numerous arrests stemming from swatting incidents over the past decade, with offenders being sentenced to prison on federal charges in some cases.
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