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Ryan Seacrest can add "celebrity swatting victim" to his impressive resume. The American Idol host, whose home was swarmed by police on Wednesday afternoon, is the sixth famous person in a week to be targeted by the prank. Suddenly, it's a trend: a really awful one.
"Swatting" involves somebody placing a fake emergency call from another person's home. In the case of Chris Brown, who was targeted back in January, the prankster called in an all-too-believable domestic violence incident. With Tom Cruise, it was a fake armed robbery. The idea is to attract multiple police officers, including SWAT teams, to the celebrity's home. And it appears no one is immune: recent victims include Diddy, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez, Ashton Kutcher and Russell Brand.
We're guessing that the pranksters, whoever they are, get a thrill out of participating in these celebrities' lives, and feel like they're taking those famous people down a notch. In truth, what they're doing is tying up valuable resources, costing taxpayers money and rendering large numbers of police officers unavailable to fight actual crime for hours at a time. That's why "swatting" is a felony in California. There's also a state law under consideration that would require pranksters to pay back the cost of their fake 911 call.
The tough part is finding the pranksters. Callers disguise their identities through all kinds of different phone- and computer-hacking techniques. One multiple offender, suspected of swatting Bieber and Kutcher, is currently facing charges; he's a 12-year-old boy. It's possible that another kid, holed up in his room somewhere, is responsible for the most recent spree. Or maybe it's not a kid at all; maybe it's half a dozen different people. As of right now, the LAPD is still seeking information.
Few of the famous victims have shared their thoughts about swatting, but Russell Brand did give his reaction to Ryan Seacrest (ironically, just hours before Seacrest was swatted himself).
"If all swatting attacks are this unnoticeable I'm ready for war, because I didn't even know it happened. I still don't know what a swatting attack is!" Brand told the KIIS-FM radio host on Wednesday.
Though Brand acknowledged the dangers of swatting, he also admitted that the prank appealed to him on some level. "I think if I were a teenager," he said, "I'd definitely do it."