Feeds

Hotel prank call badboy tracked down to mum's flat

Alleged PrankNET leader forced to cower inside

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Bad PUPPY: Undead Windows XP deposits fresh scamware on lawn
Installing random interwebs shiz will bork your zombie box
Experian subsidiary faces MEGA-PROBE for 'selling consumer data to fraudster'
US attorneys general roll up sleeves, snap on gloves
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.