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12-year-old admits ‘swatting’ Kutcher, Bieber. Parents, Google your kid

12-year-old admits ‘swatting' Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber: The new Internet generation prank leads a mom to talk to an Internet forensic detective for advice in avoiding this with her own kids. His advice? Google your kid regularly.

By Lisa SuhayGuest Blogger / March 12, 2013

Boy admits to pranking Ashton Kutcher, pictured here at the premier of the actor's new movie 'jOBS' in January, by making a call that resulted in a large police presence at Kutcher's home last year.

Associated Press

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According to an forensic Internet crime expert, parents should Google search their child’s name regularly in order to short-circuit "swatting" attacks such as the case of the 12-year-old Southern California boy who admitted to making a fake emergency call that sent police to Ashton Kutcher’s Hollywood home last year. 

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Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

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“Swatting,” is a new form of prank in which the caller disguises his or her phone caller ID and calls 911 to report a serious crime. In the Kutcher case, the boy called 911 and said there were individuals inside the actor’s home with guns and explosives, and that several people had been shot, a Los Angeles Police Department statement said. In the past, the same boy has called 911 to get out of school, and targeted Justin Bieber’s Calabasas, Calif., home and a bank, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s spokeswoman said. 

Dozens of emergency personnel rushed to Mr. Kutcher’s home on Oct. 3, 2012, only to find workers inside and no emergency, police said. Kutcher, who was on the set of his TV sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” also rushed to his home. 

Kids began “swatting” pranks – to make a call so serious that a S.W.A.T. team must be called in – as a modern-day extension of the old school prank calls asking, “Is your refrigerator running” or bomb scare calls, says Michael Loftin, senior Internet forensic analyst for the Norfolk Police Department in Virginia,  

“Unfortunately, swatting calls are going to get somebody innocent killed,” Loftin says. “When you make a call with a claim serious enough to get a S.W.A.T. team called in, think about the consequences of that for a moment. Imagine being in your bed at night and a flash bomb coming through your window. You get up with maybe a flashlight or something in hand and the team comes in and they’re thinking you’re the threat because of the call. Maybe there are little kids in that house.”  

However, parents can do something about this right now, he says. 

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