UPPER FREEHOLD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Police responding to a report of a hostage in Upper Freehold Township discovered it was a hoax.

A State Police SWAT team and other officers deployed on Ridgeview Way on Wednesday night. After speaking with the homeowner, they discovered there was no threat.

State Police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Flynn tells NJ.com officials are trying to determine who made the 911 call.

Officials believe it was the latest case of “swatting,” in which law enforcement is forced to respond to a hoax.

A false report of an armed intruder led police to lockdown a school in Holmdel earlier this week and police responded to a hostage situation at a video game store in Clifton last Saturday that turned out to be a hoax.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, Bill McGowan’s close knit community on River Road in Greenwich, Connecticut was surrounded by police in full riot gear and assault weapons on Tuesday, after a prankster called in a false domestic violence and hostage situation.

“Everybody was wondering what’s going on. Crazy, wild, never been a robbery here,” McGowan said.

Authorities explained that the person on the receiving end of the hoax has no idea what is going on.

Lieutenant Kraig Gray with the Greenwich Police explained that individuals use technology to make it appear that the emergency call is coming from the victim’s home phone. Police have to respond.

“This is a very serious issue. Whenever you use the police department as a sledgehammer against your enemy there is a lot of potential for things to go wrong,” Lt. Gray said.

Swatting is a national issue that first targeted celebrities. The FBI issued a report calling it dangerous.

Passaic County Sheriff’s Department Lt. George Rosenthal said the hoax calls take manpower away from other responses like common but serious difficulty breathing 911 calls, not to mention the prankster creates a dangerous and stressful situation.

“You have people there who don’t realize what’s going on and it creates confusion,” Rosenthal told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney.

Last year a SWAT team showed up on a quiet block on Round Hill Road. After investigating, it was discovered that the prank call was made after a fight on Twitter.

In that case a 16-year-old boy from Canada was arrested by the FBI. He made similar bogus calls to Florida, California, Maryland, and New York.

These anonymous calls are not the easiest to track down, but the lieutenant says if caught there could be serious charges, especially if someone gets hurt.

What punishment– if any– do you believe the caller should receive? Let us know in the comments below.

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