WATCH: A Toronto-area family has become the latest victim of a terrifying prank known as “swatting.” Heavily armed police burst into their home in the middle of the night. As Eric Sorensen reports, it was all a stupid trick that police say put the whole community in danger.
Global News has learned York Regional Police will pay for damage done to a Richmond Hill home after a case of “swatting” prompted a heavy police response Sunday morning.
Homeowner Vincent Yan says he was awakened around 6 a.m. after police forced their way into his house, was handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser.
The cause? A hoax 911 call.
Yan says York Regional Police told him that a 911 call came from inside his house, prompting police to respond in full force.
“The information from a 911 caller was that a male party armed with an assault rifle was shooting members of his family,” says Sgt. Mark Hanna of York Regional Police.
READ MORE: The rich Canadian history of ‘swatting’
Yan says several officers from York Regional Police burst through his front door and put him and his wife in handcuffs.
“I didn’t have my glasses on and they came in, 10, 15 or 20 of them, something like that with a gun pointing at me,” said Yan.
Police quickly determined the 911 call was a hoax – a situation known as “swatting.” Someone had hacked Yan’s phone line and pranked police. The dangerous trick is named after police SWAT units and started in the gaming world. It targets random innocent people, including celebrities.
In May 2014, an Ottawa teen was arrested and charged for making 30 fake emergency calls across North America.
Hanna says York Regional Police are investigating the hoax and whoever is behind the prank could face serious charges.
“This definitely isn’t a joke,” said Hanna. “The homeowners were terrified and there’s a lot of police resources being engaged which is very dangerous to members of the public.”
Yan says he is suspending his landline for now and received an apology from police.
With files from Lama Nicolas