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A Facebook executive was the victim of a hoax claiming he had shot his wife and taken his children hostage

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A Facebook executive was the victim of a hoax claiming he had shot his wife and taken his children hostage

A Facebook executive was the victim of a “swatting” hoax.

REUTERS/Max Whittaker

  • Police officers turned up at the house of a Facebook executive in California this week after a person imitating him called 911 and said he had shot his wife and taken his children hostage.
  • The call was a hoax known as “swatting,” where a person sends emergency services to a location by phoning in a fake — and often violent — crime.
  • The Palo Alto Daily Post reported that the Facebook exec, who has not been named, was briefly handcuffed.
  • Facebook thanked the police and said it was “glad that our colleague and his family are safe.”

Police officers showed up at a Facebook executive’s house in California after receiving a hoax call from someone impersonating the executive and saying he had shot his wife and taken his children hostage.

In a press release, the Palo Alto Police Department said an unidentified man called 911 at 9 p.m. on Tuesday purporting to be the executive, who has not been named, and claiming to have shot his wife, tied up his children, and planted pipe bombs in his house.

The police department sent officers, including crisis negotiators, to the Facebook executive’s house. He came out after the officers started talking to him via a public-address system. Officers who searched the house found that there was no evidence of a crime and that no children were there, the department said.

The Palo Alto Daily Post reported that the executive, who it said works in cybersecurity at Facebook, was briefly handcuffed. Facebook declined to say whether he is in cybersecurity when contacted by Business Insider.

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“We thank the city of Palo Alto for their swift and thoughtful response. They quickly identified this as a prank, and we are glad that our colleague and his family are safe,” a spokeswoman said.

Hoax callers sending emergency services to a scene with false claims of a violent crime is called “swatting,” and it can have fatal consequences.

One notorious “swatter” is Tyler Barriss, who is due to be sentenced at the end of this month for making dozens of fake 911 calls, one of which resulted in the fatal shooting of an innocent man. There is no suggestion he is connected to the hoax call targeting the Facebook executive.

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