Preteen Jailed After Falsely Reporting a Friend’s Kidnapping as “a Youtube Challenge”

( – An 11-year-old girl has been arrested after making a fake 911 call as part of an online challenge. The girl told police her friend had been abducted — but no abduction had happened. Huge police resources were wasted in response to a stupid prank.

On July 26, the girl, who lives in Port Orange, Florida, contacted the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and claimed a man in a white van had abducted her 14-year-old friend. For an hour and a half, she texted the department with updates, including a description of the abductor and a warning that he had a gun. She told officers she was following the van in a blue Jeep. Officers from multiple police departments quickly responded in an attempt to rescue the victim before her kidnapper could take her out of the area, and also brought in a helicopter to do an aerial search.

When their search operation turned up no sign of the white van or the pursuing Jeep, officers decided to trace the cellphone the texts had come from. They soon localized it to a home in Port Orange, just a few miles from Daytona Beach. There they found the preteen culprit, who they immediately arrested. Video shared to the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page shows the handcuffed girl telling officers she wouldn’t do it again; an officer replies, telling her, “This is going to be an opportunity for you to turn this into a learning experience.”

Fake 911 calls are on the rise, with so-called “challenges” on social media taking much of the blame. So-called “swatting” is also an increasing problem. This involves contacting the police and reporting an active shooter or threatening behavior with a gun. It can have tragic consequences; in 2018, a California man was jailed after making a hoax call to police after an argument in an online game. The “prank” ended with a 28-year-old Wichita man being shot dead in a police raid.

Thankfully, the 11-year-old behind the latest stupid prank didn’t get anyone killed, but prosecutors are determined to make sure she learns a lesson- and so does anyone else who might think hoax calls are a good idea.

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