August 17, 2023

What Is Swatting… and Why You Need to Be Aware of It

As Jewish institutions continue to be targeted by criminal acts, GMW-CSI endeavors to provide up to date information and best security practices for our synagogues and partner agencies. A recent and dangerous trend involves criminal actors notifying law enforcement of fraudulent emergencies. This behavior has been termed “swatting.”

Swatting is the deliberate and malicious act of reporting a false crime or emergency to evoke an aggressive response (often a SWAT team) from a law enforcement agency to a target’s location to harass and intimidate them. Swatting wastes resources and puts people in danger. These hoaxes take first responders away from actual emergencies, potentially endangering the safety of others. GMW-CSI is actively working with our local and state law enforcement and Jewish Communal Security Partners to share information regarding this ongoing criminal activity. Livestreaming Best Practices
Bad actors are seeking to view and share their disruptions of your services and events. We recommend restricting livestream access to “congregation members only” and avoiding the use of wide camera angles (keep view tight to bima). Click here for Videoconferencing Best Practices.

If a threat is received directly by the Jewish institution

Notify local police-follow instructions

  1. Notify facility security personnel (if applicable)
  2. Shelter-In-Place within building-inform police of your actions
  3. Cease livestream
  4. Continue activities and await police response (this is a judgment call required by leaders)
  5. If you choose to evacuate, await police presence to ensure evacuees safety

If a threat is received by police, the police department will arrive and inform leaders or security of threat

  1. Follow police instructions
  2. Notify facility security personnel (if applicable)
  3. Consider shelter-In-Place within building while PD search building
  4. Cease livestreaming
  5. If ordered to evacuate, verify police presence to ensure evacuees safety

*This information is being shared for situational awareness. If you believe you are victim of this scam or have received similar suspicious inquiries, notify your local police department and submit an incident report with the Jewish Federation Security Team here.