Fifteen police squad cars poured into the neighborhood of one Arlington, Texas family after a hoax call of a man with a gun came into 911. Police drew their weapons and demanded everyone in the house come out with their hands up. Luckily, no one was killed, but given past incidents of police shootings, the story could have ended a different way.
Police ultimately discovered the call to 911 came from a masked phone number, and the family thinks it was a fake IRS scammer that had called earlier, the Dallas Morning News reported.
A 1-800 number had called them impersonating an IRS employee demanded $5,000. The family didn’t believe it and refused to pay, but the scammer threatened to send police to the home if they didn’t cough up the cash. Like most people who have been called by scammers, they hung up and thought that was the end of the story.
Police call the tactic used by the hoax caller “swatting,” where a major incident is called into police and a SWAT team is dispatched. No SWAT members were involved this time, but the report was of a man with a gun, who refused to put it down.
“Luckily, no one was injured during this incident but it was very traumatic for those involved,” police Lt. Christopher Cook said in a statement. He noted there have been incidents of people who were shot during such false “swatting” calls.
“In the event they had refused to come out of the house, it’s possible we would have had to force entry which would add more danger to everyone involved,” he said.
Investigators are currently searching for the person who made both the scam call and the “swatting” call. Police, meanwhile, are urging people not to engage with scammers at all and to simply hang up.