Feeds

Hotel prank call badboy tracked down to mum's flat

Alleged PrankNET leader forced to cower inside

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Online news mag The Smoking Gun (TSG) claims it to have tracked down the leader of prank call website PrankNET to the suburban flat in Windsor, Ontario he shares with his mum.

PrankNET's stock in trade is to pose as hotel employees, emergency service staff or representatives of fire alarm companies in order to trick their marks into trashing hotel rooms, setting off sprinkler systems or damaging fast food restaurants. These hoaxes are broadcast live on the internet for the twisted pleasure of listeners.

Its tricks include claiming that a ruptured gas line threatened the lives of hotel guests, who were induced to smash open windows and throw out TV sets (on the pretext that a charge from its internal CRT could set off an explosion).

On two occasions, members of the group tricked fast food workers into stripping off clothes outside their restaurants in order to guard against the supposed risk that chemicals released from an outlet's fire suppression system could cause burns. Injuries, hapless workers were told, could be mitigating by urinating on each other.

A wave of these types of destructive pranks across the US prompted internal warnings by Choice Hotels (parent company of Comfort Inn and EconoLodge) and advisories from Orange County (Florida) Sheriff's office, among others. Quite apart from embarrassment it caused and possible health risk (one hotel worker was tricked into drinking a guest's urine in the belief that it was an apple juice sample), PrankNET's stunts have resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage.

PrankNET makes its calls using Skype, the IP telephony service, which for its denizens makes the pranks untraceable. Its members meet in online forums to plot scams.

A disaffected former member of the group helped TSG to track down Dex, on of its PrankNET's leaders, following a seven week investigation chronicling the group's stunts. Two reporters doorstepped Dex - named by TSG as Tariq Malik, 25 - who reportedly responded by hiding in the flat before calling the police. Dex's nickname comes from the titular protagonist of TV series Dexter, a Miami PD blood spatter analyst by day and serial killer of other murderers by night.

The Globe and Mail contacted Dex online after the TSG expose last week. TSG described him as a "sociopath, a mean-spirited sadist" who manipulates "naive and compliant dupes", but Dex compared his "humour" to that of Sacha Baron Cohen. Dex further claimed that TSG had identified the wrong man and that his identity remains a secret.

PrankNET's Twitter and YouTube accounts have been suspended but TSG's story contains links to archived audio clips of PrankNET's calls. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.