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Teen gets prison for 911 prank call

California in Brief | LAKE FOREST

March 28, 2008|Christine Hanley

A Washington state teenager has been sentenced to three years in a California prison for tricking 911 dispatchers into sending a SWAT team to the Orange County home of a randomly selected family.

Randal T. Ellis, 19, of Mukilteo was sentenced Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court after pleading guilty to felonies including false imprisonment by violence and falsely reporting a crime. He was ordered to pay $14,765 in restitution, nearly all of it to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Ellis was arrested last year after hacking into a telephone network and impersonating a caller from a Lake Forest home, saying that he had killed someone in the house and was threatening to shoot others.

The technique in which a prank call is made to 911 dispatchers is known among hackers as "SWATting."

The Sheriff's Department dispatched a SWAT team and surrounded the home with dozens of officers, dogs and a helicopter. A resident in the house grabbed a kitchen knife when he heard noises in his backyard, and officers handcuffed him and his wife until they determined the report was fake.

Authorities spent more than six months tracking down Ellis.

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-- Christine Hanley

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