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Mich. law makes perps pay for 'swatting' pranks

Over the past few weeks, SWAT teams have showed up to the homes of celebrities

By PoliceOne Staff

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan's governor has signed a law to curb fake calls to police that send SWAT teams to a scene where no crime occurred.

Due to technology that makes 911 calls appear as if they were from a business or house, dispatch centers have seen a rise in the trend, called "swatting." Callers usually report a medical emergency or crime that requires an extensive response.

"Literally they try to make a call where they call out the SWAT team," Gov. Rick Snyder said.

Under the new law, anyone who makes a false call resulting in an injury could face a five-year felony charge, The News Herald reported. If the injury is debilitating, the sentence becomes 10 years and if anyone dies as a result of the call, 15 years.

Respective fines ranging from $20,000 to $50,000, accompany the recommended charges. According to FBI estimates, responding to one swatting incident uses roughly $10,000 worth of resources, which the law says can be billed to the convicted swatter.

Over the past few weeks, SWAT teams have showed up to the homes of celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus and most recently, Justin Beiber. The highest-profile case in Michigan occurred in August last year, when police in Troy showed up to a home where a Boston teenager had claimed four armed suspects fired their weapons.

Instead, officers found a Troy teen who had been threatened by another online gamer while the two played Xbox.

If no one is injured in an incident, the Michigan law still provides for a 93-day misdemeanor and $500 fine. It goes into effect Jan 1.

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