DENVER (KDVR) — Finding the person who called in false threats of an active shooter to multiple schools in Colorado and even the FBI Denver field office on Wednesday may prove near impossible.
The prank, known as “swatting,” causes headaches for law enforcement and anxiety for students, parents and school staff.
“It’s such a waste of police resources. But the challenge is catching them,” said Mitch Tanenbaum, chief information officer for Turnkey Cybersecurity and Privacy Solutions.
“How do you investigate it?” he questioned. “There’s just so little information.”
Swatting calls easy to disguise
Tanenbaum said the person behind a series of hoaxes could have easily used a burner cell phone or another method, known as Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, which allows someone to use a computer to make a phone call from an untraceable number.
“On top of that, you can then use a voice distorter, so that your voice print — you know, even if they were to have some voice sample — then being able to prove it was you would be very difficult because the voice is distorted,” Tanenbaum said.
A law enforcement source told FOX31 that the same phone number was used to make the threats to various 911 dispatch centers and school districts.
Sometimes the call included the sound of gunfire in the background, which Tanenbaum said would be easy to stage.
“You take a computer, you put a speaker near the phone, you play a sound effect,” Tanenbaum said.
Colorado schools targeted by swatting calls
On Sept. 19, multiple schools across Colorado and in Denver were the target of a swatting campaign, where the caller said there was an active shooter on campus. So far, no one has been arrested for those series of threats.
Five months later, similar threats were made to numerous schools statewide, in Boulder, Gilpin County, Aspen, Brighton, Fort Morgan, Durango, Littleton and elsewhere.
FOX31 asked Tanenbaum if he thought anyone would ever get arrested for Wednesday’s swatting incidents.
“I would be really surprised. Unless, you know, they squeal right? Unless somebody blabs to a friend and that friend doesn’t think that this is such a fun thing, and they, you know, notify the police, that’s probably likely the only way that they’ll get caught,” Tanenbaum said.