A call that brought police to a Richmond home early Sunday could prompt criminal charges after the report was found to be a hoax – the latest example of a potentially dangerous trend called “swatting,” officials say.

Richmond RCMP said a call came in on their non-emergency line suggesting something serious had happened at a home in the Steveston area.

Officers arrived at the home only to find a family inside that had been sleeping.

“We determined that yes, for sure, this was some sort of hoax,” said Cpl. Stephanie Ashton. “We’ve heard it called ‘swatting,’ it’s a term used when you bring a whole bunch of police officers in an emergency response style and send them to an address where nothing is happening.”

Police call swatting a dangerous practice that puts public safety at risk.

“Had there been a critical incident somewhere else, a real critical incident where someone actually needed the police’s help, there would have been a time delay for us to get there,” Ashton said.

Investigators believe the case may have connections to online gaming, a common theme when it comes to “swatting” spoofs.

Earlier this year, RCMP officers showed up at a Langley home after getting a call from police in Ontario, who received a report of bombs and hostages at the residence.

Nothing was found, and police believe an online video game dispute led to the fake report.

Ashton said if the caller’s actions caused police or family members to be harmed in any way, they could be facing more serious charges as a result.

Investigators are now working to track where the call was made from.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Maria Weisgarber