The teen behind the viral ‘Damn, Daniel’ meme is the latest victim of swatting, as a prank caller tricks police into thinking that he shot his mother with an AK-47.
The latest Internet meme to sweep cyberspace is a goofy video called “Damn Daniel.” In this video, a teenager named Josh records his friend Daniel, and compliments his attire with the titular phrase, “Damn, Daniel.” The video has earned its subject and creator some fame, with the pair appearing on talk shows such as Ellen to discuss it. Unfortunately, this new fame has garnered the attention of Internet trolls, who have targeted the creator of the video, causing him to be the latest victim of “swatting.”
In this instance of swatting, the culprit phoned police in Riverside, California and, using a voice modulator, convinced police that “Damn, Daniel” meme creator Josh had shot his mother with an AK-47. Even though law enforcement is well aware of swatting at this point, police can’t simply dismiss claims like this, and so a SWAT team was sent to Josh’s home. Luckily, it seems as though no one was hurt during the incident.
Kevin Townsend, a police lieutenant in Riverside, blames the popularity of the “Damn, Daniel” video for the reason Josh and his family were targeted. Furthermore, Townsend claims that the family has been subject to other strange occurrences besides swatting, including phone calls and emails from strangers.
For the uninitiated, swatting is when false reports of violence or threats of violence are made to trick SWAT teams into raiding the homes of innocent people. This dangerous (not to mention expensive) prank has been especially prevalent in the gaming industry, with everyone from gamers to even Bungie executives made victims of the practice.
Swatting seems to be particularly popular to do to those streaming games on Twitch. For example, a notable Counter-Strike player named Kootra was swatted in the midst of live-streaming the game. This wasn’t the case for Josh of “Damn, Daniel” fame, so it is likely that the people behind the prank didn’t even see it unfold.
If police are able to figure out who made the call, then the individual in question will be facing a fine as well as jail time. Unfortunately, it seems as though a lot of individuals that participate in this swatting practice manage to avoid being caught, which must be especially frustrating for victims of the crime.
Currently, there is legislation being pushed through the government that is designed to combat swatting practices. In the meantime, video game developers themselves have signed an open letter last year asking people to stop swatting and other forms of online harassment. Sadly, swatting will probably be a consistent problem moving forward, especially as video game streaming becomes more popular, which will mean more wasted time and taxpayer dollars, along with the potential for someone to get seriously hurt.