It’s an increasing issue, and a worrying trend in Hollywood… Simon Cowell, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Miley Cyrus have all been victims. But, what is it? Celebrity Swatting, ladies and gentleman… no, not squatting! SWATTING.

So, what is celebrity swatting? Well, picture the scene: it was 1pm and you were having lunch last Sunday as an emergency was called in from Beverly Hills. A damsel was in distress, being held hostage at the (not-so) humble home of S’Cowell. It soon emerged the victim was tied up with duct tape in a bathroom of the hillside mansion. The police arrived to find S’Cowell at home, but no hostage in sight, and no arrests were made. Bit of an anti-climax, innit? This was the latest event in the increasingly popular criminal trend.

Something similar happened last month when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were called just before 2 a.m on October 1. An armed gunman was reported to be firing shots and threatening local residents, inside a gated Calabasas mansion. He was even threatening to shoot at police when they arrived. And which mansion was this? Justin Bieber’s, of course! Bieber wasn’t even around when police arrived; he was out on tour elsewhere.

So, just a funny prank, or a dangerous stunt? “Swatting is a very real problem for those in the public eye,” said Blair Berk (via the LA Times), a lawyer of criminal law who has represented stars including Mel GibsonKanye West and Lindsay Lohan. Berk continued: “It is only a matter of time before someone dies because of this stupidity.”

Apparently the trend started over 10 years ago by rogue gamers, and it can be difficult to track the culprits.

Berk said: “”It not only draws public safety resources away from real emergencies, it places people at significant risk by the dispatch of armed police officers,” said Beck. “Our big fear is that swatting will become more prevalent.”

The reality is, it could only be a matter of time before someone gets hurt, so if you know anyone who’s involved in these activities, report them to the proper authorities. Remember, folks; Crime does NOT pay!!!