Police falsely called to Burnaby women’s home by online harassers

WATCH ABOVE: A Lower Mainland woman is speaking out about being swatted. Swatting is a situation when a fake emergency is reported so the victim is frightened by the police response. Catherine Uruqhart reports.

A Burnaby woman became the target of an online harassment campaign this weekend for nothing more than who she follows on Twitter.

Ashley Lynch became the latest victim of an online intimidation knowing as “swatting”, when Burnaby RCMP officers showed up at her house in the middle of the night on January 11, on a tip that she had weapons inside.

Her personal information had been posted on the website 8chan, an anonymous positing board, because she followed a prominent critic of the site.

“It’s more alarming having your information out there, and it’s still out there, and there’s nothing I can do to remove it, and it’s still sitting on there for anyone to screw with me if they want to,” says Lynch, who says police quickly realized she was a victim in a harassment campaign and not a suspect.

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Burnaby RCMP Staff Sgt. Major Jon Buis says this is the first incident of this nature in Burnaby in several months, but he has heard of swatting happening recently in the Lower Mainland. He says that while the person could behind the call could be charged with public mischief, finding suspects is difficult because of the nature of attack.

“It could be someone down the street or halfway around the world,” he says, adding they’re obligated to investigate every call they receive. “It’s a very cowardly act. they’re hiding behind a computer screen and it’s very concerning that this does take place.”

“I’m hoping it’s a fad that will stop very quickly.”

For her part, Lynch advises everyone to do online sleuthing on themselves to see if their personal information can be easily accessed, so they don’t suffer the same fate as her.

“This is 100 per cent terrorism,” she says.

“It’s not pranksters. It’s not sending pizzas to someone’s house. It’s sending police to a house…with the sole intent of trying to incite an incident that ends with the police accidentally hurting or killing me.”

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