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Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez latest victims of 'swatting'

April 06, 2013|By Richard Winton, Paul Pringle and Andrew Blankstein

Hoax 911 calls sent Los Angeles police officers Friday to the homes of entertainers Justin Timberlake and Selena Gomez, the latest in a series of "swatting" incidents this week.

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.

The LAPD has expressed frustration at having to devote resources to the false alarms. Sources said emergecy dispatchers are receiving intensified training in identifying crank callers.

Law enforcement officials said such calls, which are intended to draw SWAT officers to the scene of a celebritiy's home as a prank, are a growing problem that could result in injuries and interfere with police work on real crimes, authorities say.

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

Less than two hours later, police were sent 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

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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