What is ‘swatting,’ the ‘criminal harassment’ hoax that’s hit 3 GOP lawmakers since Christmas?

Three Republican lawmakers have been the target of “swatting” at their homes since Christmas Day, with a legal expert calling the act “criminal harassment.”

“Swatting” is a crime that has become prominent in recent years, gaining more steam in the social media age when people’s addresses are easily accessible.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told Fox News Digital that swatting is a crime that could be “charged as a form of criminal threats.”

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Sen. Rick Scott, left, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep. Brandon Williams reported “swatting” incidents at their homes this week. (Getty Images)

“Swatting constitutes a false police report that can be criminally charged,” Turley said. “Virginia recently passed a new law making swatting specifically a criminal misdemeanor. It can also be charged as a form of criminal threats.”

“This is a crime that flourishes because there is insufficient deterrent,” Turley continued. “The anonymity and rare prosecutions combine to fuel this form of criminal harassment.”

“There is no mystery to how to address these crimes. There must be greater detection and penalties to achieve deterrence,” he added.

Jonathan Turley

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told Fox News Digital that “swatting” is a crime that could be “charged as a form of criminal threats.” (Fox News)

The crime targets an individual by calling in a false police report for a violent crime — such as a murder, a hostage situation or other crimes that would require a greater law enforcement response — to the home of the target.

The goal of the false police report is to elicit a SWAT team response by the police to the target’s home.

Consequently, swatting draws police resources away from real crimes while the state becomes the unwitting arm to terrorize a person at their own home.

Now, national leaders are being targeted by swatters who have sent the police to their homes.

Since Christmas, three Republican lawmakers — Sen. Rick Scott of Florida and Reps. Brandon Williams of New York and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia — have been victims of swatting at their homes.

Rep. Brandon Williams, R-N.Y. and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

Reps. Brandon Williams of New York and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia have reported being victims of “swatting” at their homes this week. (Getty Images)

Scott became the latest victim, announcing on Thursday that his home was swatted the night before while he and his wife were out to dinner.

“Last night, while at dinner with my wife, cowards ‘swatted’ my home in Naples. These criminals wasted the time & resources of our law enforcement in a sick attempt to terrorize my family,” Scott wrote on X.

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Both Williams and Greene announced on social media that their homes had been hit on Christmas Day.

Williams told Fox News’ Kayleigh McEnany that there was “no question” the swatting incident against him was an intimidation tactic over his pro-Israel stance.

Greene announced Wednesday that she would introduce a bill to target swatters after her family member’s house was also hit this week.

Fox News Digital’s Ellizabeth Elkind contributed reporting.

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