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'Swatting' probe involves Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Selena Gomez

April 07, 2013|By Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating hoax 911 calls this week involving the homes of Justin Timberlake, Selena Gomez, Rihanna and Sean Combs.

The LAPD has been dealing with "swatting" calls for some time, but the last week saw a particularly large number of incidents, officials said.

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.

On Thursday, a caller falsely claimed someone had been shot at Rihanna's Pacific Palisades home. The day before, someone falsely reported an assault at Combs' Toluca Lake home.

It's unclear if the calls are connected.

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

PHOTOS: Celebrity 'swatting' targets

LAPD sources said the department is trying to crack down on the practice by training dispatchers to identify possible crank callers.

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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