ADAMS, Mass. — Adams Police were called to investigate a hostage situation on Wednesday night that turned out to be a hoax.
The caller told the police around 9:30 p.m. that two men were holding people against their will with AK-47 guns in a home in the Daniels Court neighborhood.
Adams, Cheshire and North Adams police went into full tactical deployment, along with state police, but found that the occupants had called in a hoax hostage situation. At the same time, a hoax bomb threat was called in.
Police Chief Richard Tarsa said on Thursday that the call came from online gamers who were participating in a trend called "swatting." Swatting is the tricking of emergency services by calling in fake crimes or emergency situations.
"This definitely has the potential to have hazardous and dangerous results," Tarsa said. "Someone could get hurt or worse."
Tarsa added that the gamers had a dispute and called the police on each other.
"We were in full deploy," he said. "We were concerned of the safety of those inside, outside, and the officers."
The incident is still under investigation at this point, said Tarsa.
This type of prank threat's been on the FBI's radar since 2008. A number of celebrities have been "swatted" in recent years and online gamers in particular have used the trend as revenge — or for amusement — against other players.
The Kotaku website has a number of reported incidents, including "A World of Warcraft" player in Florida who found deputies at his door last December when a troller called in a purported assault and a family in Washington state who had a SWAT team show up for a reported shooting after their 16-year-old son banned someone from a "MineCraft" chat room.
The FBI recommends anyone threatened with swatting contact local police to ensure they aware a hoax may occur.