A hostage crisis ends with a surprise

The temperature outside was nearly 100 degrees.

It was 3:38 Saturday afternoon in Wyckoff, New Jersey.

Police received a call from a man saying he was inside a suburban home. He told them he had killed four people and taken two people as hostages. He wanted $10,000 and a police car. He had explosives.

The police arrived, followed by a heavily-armed SWAT team and the county's bomb squad. Authorities told residents to stay inside. They closed off nearby roads and prevented other residents from returning to their homes.

Police tried to reach the home's owner, or anyone who knew her.

Finally, after an hour, they contacted her. She said she was not inside the home, and she had not made the call.

Police were still unsure about the situation, so they sent out a reverse 911 call, which alerted residents to stay inside, lock their doors and close their windows.

There was still no communication from the hostage-taker.

About two and a half hours later, at around 6 p.m., a SWAT team member thought he saw a shadow of a person on a wall inside the house.

A decision was made.

Tear gas canisters were fired through two windows, an armored vehicle rolled up to the home, and the SWAT team stormed inside.

All they found was a cat, which they assumed was the cause of the shadow.

What happened?

A prankster likely used an internet phone to create a call that spoofed the home's phone number, making it seem that the call had come from inside. The hoax of sending a SWAT team to someone's home is called "swatting."

The homeowner?

She's Parry Aftab, a lawyer who founded groups to combat internet bullying. She's been called "the leading expert in cybercrime in the United States."

Someone had swatted her.

- Three-hour 'hostage' situation in Wyckoff called a hoax, North New Jersey.com>>
- Update: Authorities say 911 call in Wyckoff hoax came from fake, computer-generated phone number, North New Jersey.com>>
- Parry Aftab>>
(Note - the image is from Google Maps, taken a block from Ms. Aftab's home.)

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