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Instagram CEO, family 'SWATed' in hoax 911 calls

Daniella Genovese

The head of Instagram and his family have become the targets of a wave of hoax 911 calls that prompted authorities on both U.S. coasts to send heavily armed officers to their homes.

One of the calls, from a man who said an armed intruder was barricaded in his West Village home, sent scores of police officers there on Sunday morning, according to a spokesperson for the New York Police Department. The caller claimed to be Instagram chief Adam Mosseri's brother, according to the New York Post.

Mosseri was named the head of Instagram in 2018 after serving as head of product for the photo-sharing platform owned by Facebook. He began his career with the tech giant in 2008 as a designer.

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Within 30 minutes of receiving the Sunday call, police tweeted out a warning to avoid the area of 10th and Weehawken streets, in the West Village, because of their investigation. Officers were fielding reports that ranged from a man with a rifle holding a wounded woman hostage to a man barricaded in the home by himself with a handgun, the Post reported.

When officers with the Emergency Services Unit finally gained entry to the apartment about 11:15 a.m., there was no one inside, police said. The hoaxter had appropriated a phone number belonging to Mosseri's brother to make the call, the Post reported, citing sources it didn't name.

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Mosseri's own home in San Francisco was reportedly the target of a similar prank last week, a practice known as "SWATing" that involves sending heavily armed officers to a particular address. The colloquialism is a reference to police departments' Special Weapons and Tactics units, popularized on TV and in movies.

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San Fransisco police called to a home in the city's Mission District about 3:15 a.m. Friday to investigate a shooting discovered the call was a hoax; they were unable to determine the source of the 911 call.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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