Platte City family becomes victims of 'swatting' hoax - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Platte City family becomes victims of 'swatting' hoax

A family in Platte City neighborhood off 125th Street was the latest "swatting" victim. A family in Platte City neighborhood off 125th Street was the latest "swatting" victim.
Platte County prosecutors say 20-year-old Richard Zimmer wanted revenge when he "swatted" a Platte City family. Platte County prosecutors say 20-year-old Richard Zimmer wanted revenge when he "swatted" a Platte City family.
PLATTE COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -

A Platte County family is now the victim of a crime that often targets celebrities like Justin Bieber and Tom Cruise.

It is called "swatting," and the FBI first coined the phrase in 2008 after a group of hackers made phony 911 calls to send SWAT teams to homes of people they wanted to get revenge against.

Platte County prosecutors say 20-year-old Richard Zimmer also wanted revenge when he "swatted" a Platte City family.

"This is one of those crimes that has become a copycat crime," Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd said.

"Swatting" spread around the country. Celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Ryan Seacrest became targets.

A family in Platte City neighborhood off 125th Street was the latest "swatting" victim.

Investigators say Zimmer called Platte County dispatchers and told them he was holding a man hostage inside a home off 125th street.

"...that if $300,000 was not delivered to the airport, he would first put a knife through the neck of this person, and secondly, that the house was rigged with explosives," Zahnd said.

A large number of Platte County deputies responded to the scene to find the call was fake.

"Any time you have tense situations and firearms, there is a potential for danger," said Erik Holland with the Platte County Sheriff's Office.

"Swatting" also drains emergency resources.

"We are taking officers away from their duties to keep us all safe to go to something that turns out to be false, which created a very dangerous situation," Zahnd said.

According to court documents, Zimmer made the phone call from Kokomo, IN.

Investigators say he was trying to get revenge against a 15-year-old girl who he thought mistreated his girlfriend.

Platte County deputies drove to Indiana on Wednesday to pick up Zimmer and bring him to Missouri to face one charge of making a false bomb threat.

If convicted of the Class D felony, Zimmer could be sentenced to up to four years in prison.

Platte County prosecutors say in similar cases they have successfully made criminals pay back the county the cost of responding to a fake criminal report.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.). All rights reserved.

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