FBI Probes PrankNET Over Hotel Pranks

Filed under: Legal Issues, Phone Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief

Submitted by W.J. Elvin III:

FBI probes PrankNET over thousands of dollars in damage caused to hotels and restaurants
by Tom Leonard
15 July 2009

The FBI is investigating an anonymous prank-calling internet group which has reportedly duped people into causing thousands of dollars of damage to hotels and restaurants.

0_1443529c-200Some former fans of PrankNET have expressed misgivings about the increasingly violent nature of the pranks

PrankNET posts its “greatest hits” on YouTube and streams its calls live on internet radio.

Investigators say its creators are difficult to identify due to the diffficulty of tracing prank calls placed online.

Dex, the pseudonym for the group’s purported leader, has claimed credit for various expensive scare calls, although others have been attributed to “copycats”.

The former include one in February to a branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Manchester, New Hampshire, in which Dex pretended to be a company boss.

He convinced the staff to douse the restaurant with fire-suppressing chemicals, evacuate the building and strip off their clothes in the freezing cold.

Last week, a Florida family staying at a Hilton hotel in Orlando was told over the phone that their room had a gas leak.

Family members were persuaded to smash windows, break a mirror, knock in a wall with a lamp and throw a mattress outside – causing some $5,000 (£3,000) in damage.

Another couple was supposedly called by someone at their hotel’s front desk to say that “deadly” exotic spiders were on the loose and heading towards their room.

They were told that they needed to shatter their windows with the top of their lavatory cistern, which they did.

PrankNET also admitted responsibility for tricking an employee of the Hampton Inn motel chain into setting off the fire alarm.

Then, he persuaded a lorry driver to smash his vehicle into the building’s front entrance in what he said was the only way to switch it off.

The FBI said the pranks did not represent a major trend, but confirmed that the agency was looking into a PrankNET-related incident at a motel in Knoxville, Tennessee.

In that instance, an employee of a Holiday Inn Express motel caused damage estimated at $50,000 (£31,000) after he was persuaded to set off the fire alarm, shatter front windows and set off the sprinkler system, flooding the building.

Some former fans of PrankNET have expressed misgivings about the increasingly violent nature of the pranks and fear someone will soon be injured.

Related posts:

  • Hotel Prank Epidemic?
  • Phone Prank Devastates Holiday Inn