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12-year-old boy charged in Ashton Kutcher hoax
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A 12-year-old boy accused of making a prank call that sent police racing to Ashton Kutcher’s home was charged Thursday with making that call and another that falsely reported an emergency at a bank.
Prosecutors said the boy called 911 in October reporting that armed men were inside Kutcher’s Los Angeles home. That call brought out many heavily-armed officers and prompted the actor to leave the set of “Two and a Half Men” to make sure his home and workers were safe.
A week later, a call reporting an emergency at a bank on Wilshire Boulevard also proved to be a hoax.
The district attorney’s office said Thursday that the boy has been charged with two felony counts of computer intrusion and making fake bomb threats. He was scheduled to be arraigned Friday in juvenile court.
Authorities didn’t release the boy’s name because of his age.
The practice of making such hoax calls, which often target the homes of celebrities, has become known as “swatting.” The term comes from the pranksters’ desire to have heavily armed SWAT teams dispatched to their calls. Other stars whose homes have been targeted in recent months include actor Tom Cruise, and singers Justin Bieber and Chris Brown.
In some instances, the hoaxers use technology that makes it appear that the 911 calls were made from inside the homes.
Police complain that the calls tie up resources ranging from dispatchers, patrol officers, helicopters, detectives and cybercrime specialists.
The Beverly Hills Police Department estimated that more than half of its emergency resources were occupied with the Jan. 17 swatting call that led them to Cruise’s home.
By Brahma Chellaney
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