911 Centers Easy Targets for Pranksters

Services not updated to handle fake caller ID
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 2, 2009 2:58 PM CST
Prank calls to 911 can be seriously damaging to law enforcement.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Using VoIP Internet-calling services, pranksters are easily duping outdated 911 call centers to disastrous consequences, Ars Technica reports. Using easy-access online services, callers can cover up their real locations, make up stories, and mobilize emergency teams anywhere. Updating call-center systems could fix the problem, but most such places can’t afford an overhaul.

A Washington state teen called an Orange County 911 center and reported a case of drugs and murder, sending a SWAT team to arrest a family the boy had randomly chosen. A group of eight people together made over 300 prank emergency calls. Such calls not only waste the physical resources of police, but they also cost a heap. The Washington teen’s call, for example, cost officials $14,000.