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Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez are latest victims of 'swatting'

April 05, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein, Richard Winton and Paul Pringle
  • Justin Timberlake during the BRIT Awards 2013 in London.
Justin Timberlake during the BRIT Awards 2013 in London. (Joel Ryan/Invision/AP )

In the dangerous prank known as "swatting," hoax 911 calls sent Los Angeles police officers Friday to the homes of entertainers Justin Timberlake and Selena Gomez, authorities said.

At 3:15 p.m., officers responded to a call of shots fired at Timberlake's Hollywood Hills home but found nothing unusual, said Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Norma Eisenman.

Less than two hours later, police were called to Gomez's home in Sherman Oaks after a caller reported "someone had been killed inside the residence and there was a threat to burn the home down,” said Det. Gus Villanueva. The report was false, Villanueva said.

PHOTOS: Celebrity 'swatting' targets

Friday's incidents came a day after a caller falsely claimed someone had been shot at singer Rihanna’s Pacific Palisades home. The day before, someone falsely reported an assault at Sean Combs' Toluca Lake home.

Law enforcement officials said such calls, which are intended to draw SWAT officers to the scene, are a growing problem that could result in injuries and interfere with police work on real crimes.

A 12-year-old boy was recently charged with making false threats about supposed incidents at the homes of singer Justin Bieber and actor Ashton Kutcher.

Other swatting targets have included Rihanna's singer-boyfriend Chris Brown, actor Tom Cruise, "The X Factor" judge Simon Cowell, singer Miley Cyrus and the Kardashian-Jenner family.

California lawmakers are considering tougher penalties for swatting.

 

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andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

paul.pringle@latimes.com

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