22-year-old gamer sentenced to a year in prison for illegal swatting hoaxes

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Matthew Tollis, a 22-year-old avid gamer from Connecticut, has been sentenced to a year in prison for his role in a number of swatting "pranks" committed against other players.


Tollis was arrested by police early last month. He was sentenced last week for his involvement in at least six different swatting incidents where he gathered critical information about Connecticut schools and public spaces that he relayed to a team of British hackers who would actually make the triggering calls. One of Tollis's threats called into the University of Connecticut last year ended up shutting down the entire campus for a number of hours.

In the gaming community, "swatting" refers to when one player calls in false claims of criminal activity, like bomb threats or hostage situations, to police anonymously, prompting local law enforcement to sent S.W.A.T. teams to an unsuspecting, innocent person's house.  As online gamers have begun to stream their gameplay on services like Twitch in the past 10 years, there have been a growing number of swats against players while they're broadcasting on the internet.

Many swatters claim that their actions are merely a harmless prank meant to rile up their competition, but on a number of occasions the police response results in physically and emotionally traumatic interactions for the victims. Not to mention, the time spent responding to false crimes is an unnecessary (and costly) expenditure of police resources.

“Swatting is not a schoolboy prank, it’s a federal crime,” Attorney Dierdre Daly told Fox Connecticut. “These hoaxes have expended critical law enforcement resources and caused severe emotional distress for thousands of victims.”

Tollis is scheduled to report for his first day of prison Nov. 5.