Controversial internet child protection advocate and security consultant Parry Aftab had her house surrounded by SWAT police and her cat tear-gassed after a hi-tech prank call claimed she was being held by a gun man.
Inspector Knacker of the Wyckoff (New Jersey) Yard is said to be incandescent with rage and hunting the prank called after 30 police officers and SWAT team members crashed into Aftab’s house to rescue her.
According to Associated Press, the caller claimed to be in a house in Wyckoff, New Jersey, belonging to Aftab, and he was armed and had two hostages.
When the armed police entered the house they only found Aftab’s somewhat teary and miffed cat.
Wyckoff police Chief Benjamin Fox said the call received at the police department was from a non-valid number, leading investigators to believe it was made using a computer that could generate the number. The FBI has offered assistance in tracing the call.
Aftab said sorry to her neighbours for the disruption and said she was working with coppers and internet security experts to find the source of the call. She said that this was not a harmless prank and the person could end up in jail for wasting police time.
With her “save the children” message, Aftab is not exactly a popular figure amongst those who feel the Internet should be uncensored.
In 2000 Penguin Putnam published a book titled Katie.com and got into a dispute with the owner Katie Jones. In 2004 Aftab was worried about young people visiting Jones’s site thinking it was the official book site of the story of a victim of an Internet sexual predator.
She asked Jones to donate the site to a cybersafety charity or redirecting traffic from the young readers to the charity site When Jones refused Aftab claimed she had a hidden agenda. Jones felt that she was being emotionally blackmailed and that Aftab told her that “things would ‘only get worse’ for her” if she did not transfer the domain. In the end Jones was supported and Penguin changed the name of the book.