A Facebook executive was the victim of a hoax claiming he had shot his wife and taken his children hostage
- Police turned up at the house of a Facebook executive in California this week after a prankster imitated him and said he had shot his wife and taken his children hostage.
- The call was a hoax known as "swatting" where the suspect sends emergency services to a location by phoning in a fake, often violent, crime.
- The Palo Alto Daily Post reported that the Facebook exec, who has not been named, was briefly handcuffed.
- Facebook thanked the police and said it was "glad that our colleague and his family are safe."
Police showed up at a Facebook executive's house in California after receiving a hoax call from someone impersonating the executive, saying he had shot his wife and taken his children hostage.
In a press release, Palo Alto police said an as yet unidentified male rang 911 at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, purporting to be the executive, who has not been named. He claimed to have shot his wife, tied up his children, and planted pipe bombs in his house.
The police sent officers, including crisis negotiators, to the Facebook executive's house. He came out after police started talking to him via a public address system. Officers then searched the house and found no evidence of a crime, and that no children were present.
The Palo Alto Daily Post also reported that the executive was briefly handcuffed, and that he works in cybersecurity at Facebook. Facebook declined to confirm this when contacted by Business Insider.
"We thank the city of Palo Alto for their swift and thoughtful response. They quickly identified this as a prank, and we are glad that our colleague and his family are safe," a spokeswoman said.
Hoax callers sending emergency services to a scene with false claims of a violent crime is called "swatting," and can have fatal consequences.
One notorious "swatter" is Tyler Barriss, who is due to be sentenced at the end of this month for making dozens of fake 911 calls, one of which resulted in the fatal shooting of an innocent man. There is no suggestion he is connected to the Facebook hoax.