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What is Swatting? The growing trend behind Thursday's school hoax threats

Several schools across North Carolina went on lockdown after fake threats. Guilford County Schools said a call about one of their schools was an example of swatting.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Hoax threats called in against schools across the state sent a wave of panic through North Carolina parents Thursday. At least 11 schools went on lockdown including four in the Triad.

Investigators are still trying to find the people responsible for today's false reports, but Guilford County Schools said their call was a case of what is called swatting. The Educator's Schools Safety Network says before today 209 false calls like swatting were made this school year.

"The people who perpetrate this are looking for a tactical response," said FBI agent John Bennett. "They want to see the heavy equipment they want to see armed officers they want to see a bomb dogs helicopters that's all part of the fun they see in this and that can be very, very devastating."

In addition to schools, swatting targets are sometimes celebs like Rhianna or Justin Bieber. But the trend started though with online gamers. People would call in a fake threat from across the country or world using computer programs to fake their voices.

"These coordinated swatting attacks are difficult to investigate and if they use a VPN, that IP address could be anywhere in the world," said Sean Lanterman, Director of Incidence Response for Computer Forensic Services.

But Lanterman says he has confidence investigators will find those responsible.

"They always make a mistake," he said. Somewhere along the line, they disclose to a third party something that law enforcement can get a hold of in order to find the person behind that account."

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