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The Outing of Pranknet

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the richly-deserved dept.

The Almighty Buck 543

An anonymous reader writes "The Smoking Gun recently published a story on their investigation and outing of Pranknet, an online cabal that aims to take pranks to the next level. Their legacy includes thousands of dollars of damage, and many harassed souls. Many of the pranks have clear criminal implications. Reading their report may send chills down your collective spines." From the linked article: "Coalescing in an online chat room, members of the group, known as Pranknet, use the telephone to carry out cruel and outrageous hoaxes, which they broadcast live around-the-clock on the Internet. Masquerading as hotel employees, emergency service workers, and representatives of fire alarm companies, 'Dex' and his cohorts have successfully prodded unwitting victims to destroy hotel rooms and lobbies, set off sprinkler systems, activate fire alarms, and damage assorted fast food restaurants. But while Pranknet's hoaxes have caused millions of dollars in damages, it is the group's efforts to degrade and frighten targets that makes it even more odious ..."

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fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005183)

ladies, get your pussies ready! In the meantime, you gentlemen can eat my asshole.

these are not pranks! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005231)

here we call them FELONIES!

Re:these are not pranks! (2, Funny)

Kratisto (1080113) | about 5 years ago | (#29005559)

To report a felony, please send your Social Security number and a short report of the crime to identitythief2001@sketchydomain.biz

Re:these are not pranks! (4, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | about 5 years ago | (#29005585)

here we call them FELONIES!

This.

And also, I'm 100% positive that I will turn on the news tomorrow and hear the media refer to this DouchNet as a group of hackers.

Re:these are not pranks! (4, Insightful)

Virak (897071) | about 5 years ago | (#29005633)

To be fair, social engineering is more of 'hacking' than a lot of what gets passed off as such these days, even if it's just used to be gigantic assholes.

Re:these are not pranks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005697)

It wasn't me!

/i/ (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005241)

All internet chaos comes from /i/

Slushy Piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005243)

Hello, its me the idle troll on mainline cuntdot again. While you cuntdot fags are wasting modpoints, I'm having fun. Too bad this is only the second post.

Re:Slushy Piss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005391)

okay cuntdot fags, want to waste another mod point??

Train wreck phenomenon (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#29005251)

successfully prodded unwitting victims to destroy hotel rooms and lobbies, set off sprinkler systems, activate fire alarms, and damage assorted fast food restaurants[...]Pranknet's hoaxes have caused millions of dollars in damages,

Movies cost hundreds of millions to create, market, distribute, and be consumed for the same reason: Entertainment. The difference is, movies are legal and often fictional. But does it matter to those watching? No. The deeper question here is -- why do people watch it? Why the popularity? The answer says a lot more about us, the audience, than it does about the criminals.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (4, Insightful)

pen (7191) | about 5 years ago | (#29005283)

What are you talking about? There is a lot more of a difference between these pranks and movies; For example, the actors' and crews' voluntary participation, and not causing uncompensated damage to someone's property and psyche. I'm sure there are some examples, but they're generally frowned upon. Causing millions of dollars in damages to someone's property and not compensating them for it is not the same as paying a crew millions of dollars to film a movie. Give me a break!

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#29005317)

That whooshing sound over your head is the point you missed.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (0)

pen (7191) | about 5 years ago | (#29005335)

Care to clarify it for me?

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005347)

Hes just saying that movies and pranks appeal to the same audience.

I think he is also being rhetorical.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (1, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#29005369)

Yeah: Movies are made for entertainment. Pranknet was made for entertainment. They both use the same medium doing so. Pranknet wouldn't exist without an audience to consume it, just like any other entertainment product. It would seem that it doesn't matter how the entertainment was made (legal, illegal, whatever) -- what matters is the audience wants it.

Why?

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29005419)

Pranknet wouldn't exist without an audience to consume it

I don't know if I buy that. I've seen plenty of asshats who are willing to harass people and destroy their property without the benefit of sharing their deeds with a broader audience.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (1)

SCVirus (774240) | about 5 years ago | (#29005447)

...And that's why 4chan exists.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#29005455)

I don't know if I buy that. I've seen plenty of asshats who are willing to harass people and destroy their property without the benefit of sharing their deeds with a broader audience.

True, but when someone picks up a video camera and starts recording their criminal activities in a willful fashion, they've advanced beyond mere asshattery and touch the realm of the sociopathic. It's quite clear that fame was the motivation behind a lot of these so-called "pranks". They wanted popularity and didn't care who suffered for it. That's quite a bit different than the average criminal, which often conducts their activities in an effort to avoid drawing attention to themselves, and the motivation is usually money.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (2, Insightful)

Beetle B. (516615) | about 5 years ago | (#29005525)

It's quite clear that fame was the motivation behind a lot of these so-called "pranks". They wanted popularity and didn't care who suffered for it.

The thing is, I see little difference between what they're doing and what Cohen does in Borat and Bruno: Exploiting other people because there's a market for it and he can make a buck/Euro off of it. Sure, Cohen is a lot more careful to stay within the law, but the intent and "morality" of it is the same. One just happens to be more extreme.

The following supports what I'm saying:

Malik appears to believe that Pranknet will someday achieve the mainstream success of the Jerky Boys or Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers." He remarked one evening that, "If we get it big enough, it could get more than just fun."

Obviously, a lot of the pranks listed in the article will never get that kind of success, but it shows the mentality is pretty much the same.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 5 years ago | (#29005549)

Eh I wouldn't say sociopathic. When /i/nsurgents raid something they do it because they're anonymous and they're invincible and they can do whatever they want without consequences- so they do. At least from what I hear it seems like a "wouldn't it be hilarious" kind of thing, not a "yessss.. more bloooddddd..." kind of thing.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005593)

Eh I wouldn't say sociopathic. When /i/nsurgents raid something they do it because they're anonymous and they're invincible and they can do whatever they want without consequences- so they do.

Doing something for no other reason than because you can, without regard for the consequences, ethical implications etc., is pretty much the definition of sociopathic.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (1)

fooslacker (961470) | about 5 years ago | (#29005705)

Pranknet wouldn't exist without an audience to consume it

I don't know if I buy that. I've seen plenty of asshats who are willing to harass people and destroy their property without the benefit of sharing their deeds with a broader audience.

I'm not sure I have an answer to the why but I will say I don't see too many "asshats who are willing to harass people and destroy their property without the benefit of sharing their deeds with a broader audience". The democratizing effect of modern technology now means that that audience is large but you rarely find people who harass just to harass (short of true sociopaths).

Instead you find people largely doing this type of stuff to impress an audience even if it is just their circle of friends. The mentality is similar to concepts like Jackass, Crank Yankers, Borat, Bruno, etc. It's just less mainstream and the damages aren't covered by a studio and insurance company. If there really are folks out there doing it by themselves without an audience (even a small one) for no other reason than that they can they are either anarchists (which is technically a reason) or sociopaths.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005605)

Having read TFA it doesn't seem like there was much of an audience. According to the report, the number of listeners barely toped 200, and half of those were probably law enforcement.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (2)

Hubbell (850646) | about 5 years ago | (#29005565)

Maybe people shouldn't be so stupid as to listen to anything someone tells them on the phone and demand to see someone in person if it's as serious as they are being told? I sure as hell would tell anyone calling me on a phone to go fuck themselves if they even hinted at wanting me to do anything which I could be held liable for.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (3, Insightful)

Beetle B. (516615) | about 5 years ago | (#29005637)

Maybe people shouldn't be so stupid as to listen to anything someone tells them on the phone and demand to see someone in person if it's as serious as they are being told?

Some of the pranks were committed by people in person. How else do you think they got a car inside a building?

And really, if the fire departments calls your business saying that you need to leave ASAP because of a gas leak, you're going to say "Nah. You guys show up first. If the building doesn't explode before you get here, then I'll know it's a hoax."

Not suggesting that they weren't gullible, but you do have to take the element of urgency into account.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (1)

Hubbell (850646) | about 5 years ago | (#29005783)

A little bit of logic goes a long way. 'How do you know there is a gas leak in the building?' Bam, done. In a hotel they'd have employees running from door to door or pull the fire alarm to get people to evacuate.

Re:Train wreck phenomenon (5, Insightful)

bhartman34 (886109) | about 5 years ago | (#29005755)

Maybe people shouldn't be so stupid as to listen to anything someone tells them on the phone and demand to see someone in person if it's as serious as they are being told? I sure as hell would tell anyone calling me on a phone to go fuck themselves if they even hinted at wanting me to do anything which I could be held liable for.

The whole reason this works is that everyone thinks they're smarter than that. But as someone's already said here, it's the supposed urgency of the call that breaks down the barriers. Add to that the voice of authority, and you've got a clear recipe for people being abused. The idiots at PrankNet have probably never even heard of the Milgram experiment, though. As unethical as I think the experiment was, at least it was done for scientific reasons, and not sadistic pseudosexual gratification.

Dear Pranknet (0, Flamebait)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | about 5 years ago | (#29005279)

Thank you for demonstrating that there is still freedom in society. Remember the social fabric is delicate and total freedom from it lies in a correctional institution near you.

Please don't profit from other's trust and further from their misfortune. I doubt you have never trusted or felt misfortune, and when you did you wanted a different response than what you offer.

The economy sucks, the rich have destroyed liquidity to keep their dollars valuable... now more than ever we need community. The one thing rich and unethical people hate.

Re:Dear Pranknet (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29005349)

The economy sucks, the rich have destroyed liquidity to keep their dollars valuable... now more than ever we need community. The one thing rich and unethical people hate.

WTF? Yes, all rich people hate community. Just the other day I saw a rich person going all over town setting soup kitchens and churches on fire. When I asked him why he was doing it he just laughed in my face and muttered something about "community sucks" before throwing the armani jacket back on, hopping in his BMW and driving off like a bat out of hell.

I really thought we had moved beyond this class warfare nonsense a long time ago.

Re:Dear Pranknet (1, Insightful)

neiras (723124) | about 5 years ago | (#29005457)

I really thought we had moved beyond this class warfare nonsense a long time ago.

You must be new here.

Jealousy is at least as basic and powerful a human trait as greed. The only way to "move beyond" either trait would be to impose hard societal limits on both wealth and poverty that could not be circumvented by anyone, thus eliminating "class" as it exists now.

Good freaking luck with that.

Re:Dear Pranknet (5, Insightful)

Majik Sheff (930627) | about 5 years ago | (#29005537)

The people who impose such limits invariably exempt themselves.

Re:Dear Pranknet (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29005711)

The people who impose such limits invariably exempt themselves.

Now where have we ever seen that before [americanchronicle.com] ? Surely our system is better than that, right?

"Also, a check of Pistol License records shows that Senator Schumer possesses an "unrestricted" pistol permit, a rarity in New York City. Licenses are distributed in different categories in the Big Apple: Target Permits allow only use of a firearm at a licensed firing range; Premises Permits allow weapons to be kept in a home or apartment; Restricted Permits allow the gunowner to carry their firearms concealed but only within the purview of their job (security, jewelers, armored car guards, etc.). So it's evident that Senator Schumer has two sets of rules -- one for Americans and one for himself."

All animals are equal but some are more equal than others......

The free market sees taxation as damage and routes around it.

Best sig ever :)

Re:Dear Pranknet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005725)

How would you "impose societal limits," and who would do the imposing? FYI, you can have a classless society without the need for any kind of 'stabilizing' authority, and the way to get there is not by limiting people's freedoms within the existing framework, but by building a new framework which is inherently egalitarian, libertarian, and communitarian. We don't need more of the old laws, we need a revolution.

Re:Dear Pranknet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005485)

I really think that all the corporations and wealthy are evil posts are just the latest trolls.

Re:Dear Pranknet (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005523)

Just the other day I saw a rich person going all over town setting soup kitchens and churches on fire

The rich establishment does not have to set soup kitchens on fire to destroy them. It can be done more insidiously-- by supporting an economic distribution that erodes the middle class and forces more people into poverty. By overwhelming the soup kitchens. By de-funding social safety nets such as soup kitchens.

It's hilarious that the ones always calling for an end to "class warfare nonsense" are those that identify with the minority upper class. The same ones who by strange coincidence seem to continually start (and win) class warfare attacks on everyone else.

To quote billionaire Warren Buffett [nytimes.com] :

"There's class warfare, all right. But it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."

Re:Dear Pranknet (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29005561)

by supporting an economic distribution that erodes the middle class and forces more people into poverty

You mean by raising taxes on the middle class, as has recently been suggested?

By de-funding social safety nets such as soup kitchens.

I'd be interested to know how you can 'de-fund' a soup kitchen the majority of the ones I've seen are run by private charities and not the government.

Re:Dear Pranknet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005571)

I really thought we had moved beyond this class warfare nonsense a long time ago.

You are aware that we just elected a professional class and race warrior as president, right?

Re:Dear Pranknet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005583)

Well, my insurance company took my money, didn't pay for my health care, and now is trying to convince the dumb Americans (which are unfortunately in the majority) that we should reject health care reform.

Yes, corporations shit on the community daily.

To say nothing of those companies, that just can't stand the idea of paying taxes like we all have to...

Corporations will screw you over to make a buck every fucking time.

Open your eyes.

Re:Dear Pranknet (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#29005643)

Well, my insurance company took my money, didn't pay for my health care, and now is trying to convince the dumb Americans (which are unfortunately in the majority) that we should reject health care reform.

Well, the Government is taking 6.2% of my money for social "security", which will be bankrupt by the time I reach retirement age and from which I'll be lucky to recoup the money I've put in, let alone any extra monies above and beyond that. If I had invested the money that's been taken from in FICA taxes over the last ten years into bonds and equities I'd have about 110% of what I started with. You'll forgive my skepticism that they are going to do any better with health care.

To say nothing of those companies, that just can't stand the idea of paying taxes like we all have to...

You just don't understand do you? If you charge a corporation taxes then the corporation is going to pass that cost along to it's customers. In the end it's still the people that wind up paying the tax. All you've done is to put a middle man between them and the government and allowed some jackass leftist to claim that he's fighting for the "little guy" when in fact it's the little guy who is paying for the new tax. He's just paying it on his automobile insurance/gasoline/grocery bill/electric bill/etc instead of paying it on his tax bill.

Corporations will screw you over to make a buck every fucking time.

Yes, they will. Ever heard the expression 'caveat emptor'? The difference between your friendly mega-corp and the government is that nobody is forcing you to do business with the mega-corp. The mega-corp can't come and take your money at gunpoint. You have to decide to do business with them.

Re:Dear Pranknet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005795)

Actually I'd like to think the Mega corps MANIPULATE ways into making sure you do business with them and only them. The Government never really has to do that. They can just do it overtly. Lets be even on the keel, the government is quite populous with people looking to benefit only themselves, as are their people in big business looking to do the same. Same un-ethical view, different bureaucracies. It just matters how much a percentage of these types of people tend to populate one or the other at one time.

Just a few points of thought to put out there for the totally pro-business and pro-socialistic views.

Re:Dear Pranknet (-1, Flamebait)

idlemachine (732136) | about 5 years ago | (#29005607)

I really thought we had moved beyond this class warfare nonsense a long time ago.

And I thought everyone had realised by now that Rand was full of shit, but clearly not.

Re:Dear Pranknet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005741)

Are you kidding?

We'll never move beyond class warfare with Democrats controlling the entire government. Foisting class warfare stereotypes on sheeple who know no better is how leftists got into office, and its also how they'll likely stay there, unless there's an unlikely outbreak of education and common sense.

Re:Dear Pranknet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005355)

The economy sucks, the rich have destroyed liquidity to keep their dollars valuable... now more than ever we need community. The one thing rich and unethical people hate.

This was the sweetest comment I've seen on slashdot ever. Kudos.

Re:Dear Pranknet (0, Flamebait)

MikeDataLink (536925) | about 5 years ago | (#29005375)

You sir can suck my proverbial balls. Rich has nothing to do with ethics. A$$Hat.

Re:Dear Pranknet (0, Offtopic)

MikeDataLink (536925) | about 5 years ago | (#29005389)

And that fact that the parent comment was modded 5 insightful, rather that -1 troll smells like Slashdot. What was I thinking...

Re:Dear Pranknet (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | about 5 years ago | (#29005425)

This is the most ridiculous comment I've read in a long time. The problem, as you see it, is a group of greedy amoral bastards. So your solution is solidarity with a group of immoral sociopaths? While you're at it, why don't you invite a few rapists and serial killers too.

Re:Dear Pranknet (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#29005615)

As much as I dislike a lot of the tactics which have led some to be rich by default, you're absolutely right. While it probably is true that on the grand scale, that the rich harm more people overall, it isn't personal and it does at least have the genuine motive of making oneself better off. And the rich typically give far, far more back to the community than those sociopaths do. Which is wholly different than fucking with people to this extent just to get some cheap laughs.

Re:Dear Pranknet (3, Insightful)

Joe Jay Bee (1151309) | about 5 years ago | (#29005427)

Yes, I too associate community with inciting people to commit criminal damage.

For fuck's sake.

Re:Dear Pranknet (1)

Majik Sheff (930627) | about 5 years ago | (#29005547)

Some people think the Rodney King riots were a justified response too. It would appear that they are cut from the same cloth.

Re:Dear Pranknet (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#29005621)

Sigh, the Rodney King riots had very little if anything to do with Rodney King. They were much more heavily influenced by the murder of a black girl by a Korean shopkeeper than by anything that the police did. The verdict was just the last straw. It's not exactly a coincidence that the black community focused so heavily on Korean own establishments.

authentication (0)

British (51765) | about 5 years ago | (#29005307)

So the bottom line is, just because someone calls your business, doesn't mean they aren't in higher authority,etc or in charge of some security company. Sadly, we are gullible by nature. Sure, it may seem extreme that a guy on the other end tells you to smash the windows & set off the alarms, but better safe than sorry.

The rest of the world is making fun of America (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005327)

Everyone here seems to think it is a felony, I think the actions that the duped took are nearly criminal. They are negligent due to their own stupidity. Had it been to children, it would be ok, but these guys were duping grown ups, who can rationally think. Sadly these prankers just expose Americans as fools to the rest of the world.

Re:The rest of the world is making fun of America (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005395)

Are you implying that because the victims displayed great naivety, it somehow excuses the criminals who engaged in these "pranks" ?

Re:The rest of the world is making fun of America (1)

causality (777677) | about 5 years ago | (#29005599)

Are you implying that because the victims displayed great naivety, it somehow excuses the criminals who engaged in these "pranks" ?

Maybe he's implying that if a random stranger calls up a naive person, and convinces that naive person to smash windows and destroy i.e. hotel property, perhaps it is the naive person who should be fully responsible for paying the damages. Just one or two well-publicised cases like that and suddenly the effectiveness of these pranks will strongly diminish. Knowing that it is unlikely to work anymore, the pranksters would then have a deterrant.

To put that another way, let's take your question and turn it around. "Are you implying that because the prankster had bad intentions, it somehow excuses the fact that a person willfully and knowingly decided to do a lot of property damage merely because an unaccountable stranger told him it was a good idea?"

They're both valid questions. Perhaps the best way to handle it would be to charge the prankster with "harassment" or "malicious use of the telephone network" or whatever they call the misdemeanor offense of prank calling, and then to hold the target of the prank legally liable for any damage done. Though personally, I see the target's stupidity and particularly the desire to excuse and protect it as much more dangerous to society than the prankster's nonviolent maliciousness. Besides, nonviolent malice is much easier to cure than stupidity.

Re:The rest of the world is making fun of America (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | about 5 years ago | (#29005715)

Just one or two well-publicised cases like that and suddenly the effectiveness of these pranks will strongly diminish. Knowing that it is unlikely to work anymore, the pranksters would then have a deterrant.

Hence their breaking the story, and it appearing on Slashdot.

The article also pointed out that one locale (forgot which - in Florida?) that had been the target of their pranks sent out a bulletin warning businesses.

But let's be realistic. Even with it being publicized, it's highly unlikely that most business owners will see it - running a business takes a lot of time. It's equally unlikely that their employees will see it as well.

Those "pranksters" are at the very least accessories to the crime. Impersonating certain officials (e.g. fire department) is likely also a crime. It wouldn't surprise me if duping can come under fraud, or some related law.

"Are you implying that because the prankster had bad intentions, it somehow excuses the fact that a person willfully and knowingly decided to do a lot of property damage merely because an unaccountable stranger told him it was a good idea?"

That's irrelevant to the discussion at hand. He/she didn't do it because someone told them it was a good idea. They did it because they were trying to save either the property or people's lives.

Though personally, I see the target's stupidity and particularly the desire to excuse and protect it as much more dangerous to society than the prankster's nonviolent maliciousness.

That's like saying that ordinary low level potential Al-Qaeda members are more dangerous than Bin Laden, and that most of the blame should be put on them rather than on Bin Laden. Or that drug addicts are a bigger problem than drug dealers, and that we should focus on targeting users rather than dealers.

Re:The rest of the world is making fun of America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005763)

I asked him. I don't need a third party telling me what he probably implied.

However maybe instead of paraphrasing, you should just have said "Maybe he's implying yes". Which I also believe but wanted clarification. Since you seem to agree, I will answer you that the pranskter had the intent to cause a huge amount of damage and as such, a misdemeanor is a laughable punishment. The "idiot victim" had no such intent to cause damage and should not be punished as much (civil settlement should be enough).

And the victims being stupid is no excuse. As for your "reverse" question, the answer is "no" which is why the pranksted should pay for the damage. However, the prankster should pay "punitive" damage to both the hotel and to the pranksted.

Re:The rest of the world is making fun of America (-1, Troll)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 5 years ago | (#29005733)

If I say "hey moron, here is a jug of gas. Why don't you go juggle it and this here lit blowtorch?" and you stand out in the street and do exactly that, then I should be charged? NO BECAUSE YOU WERE TOO STUPID TO LIVE!!!! It is called "personal responsibility" (I know, its a concept) and it is something this country sorely needs.

Why do you think we have to have "open can first" on Campbell's soups now? Or lawsuits when some dipshit puts a boiling hot cup of coffee between their legs and squeezes? Because thanks to a lack of personal responsibility these mouth breathers have to be protected by nanny government. New flash: You can't protect stupid people from acting stupid. That is why we call them stupid and not geniuses. Ultimately if some moron calls you on the phone and says 'strip nekkid and go play in traffic" it is YOUR responsibility not to be so fucking stupid as to listen to them!!! The only other choice is to have nanny government "protect" them with even more insane laws. Is that REALLY what you want?

Re:The rest of the world is making fun of America (-1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | about 5 years ago | (#29005411)

I can't help but sort of agree. I can't believe that people just do stuff because someone total stranger on the phone tells them to. It's just not right in any way.

I have a poster up here at work. It shows some comic book superhero with the quote: "Common Sense: So rare it's a god damn super power". I can't help but think that it applies here too. Sure, the kid is a jackass for doing what he does, but the people who obey and actually do these things? I don't feel sorry for them much at all. If he took a weapon and actually threatened them, that's another story, but how much perceived threat can a caller on a phone generate to cause people to act out of fear rather than stupidity?

Personal responsibility (1)

ParticleGirl (197721) | about 5 years ago | (#29005481)

I see a parallel here with the victims of Nigerian scammers, so recently discussed [slashdot.org] here. To what extent are the victims (perpetrators, in this case, of felonious acts; the mechanism by which they lose their own money in the other case) responsible for their own actions? To what extent is someone else responsible for bringing those actions about? A key difference here is that the Pranknet guys often rely on danger/panic scenarios: those situations when time wasted can be dangerous, and the guys at Pranknet were portraying themselves as helpers, whereas the scammers usually appeal to their victims for "help." I guess it's a difference of degree...

Both Sides Are Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005339)

While I don't support their actions, it blows my mind that there are people out there that fall for this staff. Like victims of scammers, I am unable to feel sorry for them.

idle hands (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about 5 years ago | (#29005341)

Reading TFA it shows that this kid doesn't go to school and doesn't have a job, he just spends his days and nights mooching off his mom and finding ways to entertain himself.

One of those cases I'd file under "parents enabling the problem". Kick him out on the street where he belongs, force him to get a job and spend some of his time doing something constructive, rather than 100% of his time spent on destructive self-entertainment. There are some cases where the parents bear a significant chunk of the responsibility for their kids' behavior, and this is definitely one of them.

Re:idle hands (4, Insightful)

jpmorgan (517966) | about 5 years ago | (#29005405)

It's not just his parents. It's all of society that enables these kinds of folk. Back in the day we'd just leave them for the wolves.

Re:idle hands (3, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | about 5 years ago | (#29005799)

It's not just his parents. It's all of society that enables these kinds of folk. Back in the day we'd just leave them for the wolves.

I thought it was bring them to the wolves.

Re:idle hands (5, Insightful)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | about 5 years ago | (#29005475)

I caught that too. He thinks he is so much superior than those he is duping, but he is the one living with his mom and no friends.

Re:idle hands (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | about 5 years ago | (#29005489)

One of those cases I'd file under "parents enabling the problem".

That's a very naive way of looking at it.

If you read the whole article, you'd see that he's not the only one doing this. I'm not sure all of the other pranksters on Pranknet live in their homes on their mothers' income.

There may be patterns in their behavior, but this isn't something he can't do if he gets a full time job.

Re:idle hands (4, Insightful)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | about 5 years ago | (#29005517)

Most mooches living in their parents basement manage to satisfy themselves with porn and World of Warcraft. While sad, they somehow manage to avoid actively reaching out to destroy things. This man is a psychopath, and it will take more than a bit of tough love to fix him, assuming he can be fixed.

Re:idle hands (4, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#29005635)

Technically speaking, he's most likely a sociopath, a psychopath isn't likely to be still living with his parents. Psychopaths are driven to the point of ignoring the needs and wants of other people to get what they want. Sociopaths are largely similar, but far less organized and far more likely to be capable of interacting with others, providing that they have similar interests. But both are worth considering as dangerous and keeping an eye on.

Re:idle hands (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005793)

Technically speaking, nobody seems to be able to agree on what if any difference there is between "psychopath" and "sociopath". I've heard a million and one different 'correct' distinctions between the two. The most common distinction seems to be that "psychopath" applies to people for which the condition is biological in origin, and "sociopath" for ones for which it is sociological in origin. Even that doesn't seem to be common enough to say it's the 'correct' distinction. And I've certainly never heard the sort of distinction you're claiming.

To make the terminology even more fun and exciting, there's also antisocial personality disorder [wikipedia.org] from the DSM and dissocial personality disorder [wikipedia.org] from the ICD, which largely overlap with each other and psychopathy/sociopathy.

(IANAP, but I play one on the Internet)

Re:idle hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005801)

Hey now, I have a perfectly good home, job, and wife.

And I'm still left to satisfy myself with porn and World of Warcraft.

And also manage to not run around destroying things like a psychopathic child.

I bet if this guy found more porn and addictive RPGs he wouldn't have time to be a jerk IRL.

Re:idle hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005519)

You're clearly correct! His lack of employment must be the problem. It's not like employed adults have ever done anything bad, like commit series of rapes and murders (and not necessarily in that order), run the world economy into the ground, or that eternal classic, try to kill all the Jews.

Crappy reporting (-1, Troll)

ledow (319597) | about 5 years ago | (#29005343)

Okay, what a bad piece of reporting. Report a story and then pad it out with irrevelant and subjective personal details? If you want to "attack" the man verbally, your story has enough to do so without needing to comment on the state of his house or family. It's like a child's snipe at one of their ex-friends, it's appalling to think that an adult wrote it.

Yes, he's an idiot. Yes, he *will* get caught and have consequences against him if/when actual evidence turns up. Yes, he is taking advantage of gullible people but that's not entirely their fault - walk out into the street any time of day and you'll find someone that you can take advantage of somehow, if you're mean enough. But to lower yourself to personal attacks on his personal lifestyle, housing, amount of friends etc. is being no better than himself.

You know what? I couldn't make it past the first page of that personal attack - I had to skim to the end to see if there was any actual point to the story (which there didn't seem to be). Grow up.

Re:Crappy reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005469)

I agree with TSG being unprofessional and juvenile. Mod parent up.

Re:Crappy reporting (2, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | about 5 years ago | (#29005511)

You know, they could have been found out much earlier if one of those employees had stopped to make a sanity check of what they were being asked to do.

Also blame employers. Most employers prefer the subordinate type that follows and asks questions later. Those employees are especially vulnerable to attacks like this. All you have to do is find one 'yes sir/no sir' type to 'change the fuses'.

It's only too telling... (5, Insightful)

Constantin (765902) | about 5 years ago | (#29005409)

...to see how these fine folk reacted once they were outed by TSG. Props to the folk who got the job done.

Tariq Malik calling the cops on reporters standing in a public way outside your flat after having posted numerous episodes of taking advantage of gullible people on youtube has to be the epitome of chutzpah. If the allegations against him and his cohorts are true (and the evidence they collected against themselves seems to back those allegations up), I hope they get to pay restitution to all the folk they tricked and spend a considerable time making up their 'pranks' to society.

Documenting your own crimes and posting them to the internet in the hope of glory seems a bit backwards to me, but hey, to each his/her own.

Re:It's only too telling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005531)

I hope they get to pay restitution to all the folk they tricked and spend a considerable time making up their 'pranks' to society.

Fuck that lame-ass shit. These douches will never in their lifetimes be able to pay 1/10th restitution. Extradite them to the US, try them, and put them in prison until they are old men.

Dear Slashdot, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005443)

How about posting a list of IP addresses & timestamps of Slashdot's top trolls, and let us do the rest.

Re:Dear Slashdot, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005483)

127.0.0.7

Go get 'em, tiger!

What idiots (-1, Flamebait)

Stiletto (12066) | about 5 years ago | (#29005473)

I don't feel the slightest bit sorry for grown adults who trash their hotel rooms or strip naked on the sidewalk, simply because someone on the phone told them to. As far as I'm concerned these "pranksters" are performing a public service, outing the terminally stupid. If anything in this article should be a crime it's the "victims'" gullibility.

Re:What idiots (4, Insightful)

Beetle B. (516615) | about 5 years ago | (#29005535)

So...I take it you're one of the pranksters on Pranknet?

Malik, of course, expressed no remorse for his stunts. Prank targets, he declared, were "responsible for their own actions." The victims he and his cronies abused and degraded daily were simply "sheep" with "no brains of their own."

I suppose it doesn't bother you either that much of the pranks are also illegal?

Re:What idiots (5, Insightful)

lacoronus (1418813) | about 5 years ago | (#29005545)

You'd be surprised at how much you yourself rely on trusting other people, even if you do speak like a stone cold trust no-one badass. You'd also be surprised at how much society relies on the ability of its people to trust each other. This is what pranksters and scammers rely on.

I'd like a society where we trust and help each other. What these people do is to make us all trust each other a bit less and to look at our fellow man with the attitude that "they're going to screw me over, so I'm going to screw them first, ha!" a bit more.

Pranknet are scum, quite simply.

Re:What idiots (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | about 5 years ago | (#29005579)

You'd be surprised at how much you yourself rely on trusting other people, even if you do speak like a stone cold trust no-one badass. You'd also be surprised at how much society relies on the ability of its people to trust each other. This is what pranksters and scammers rely on.

This really needs to be modded up.

Expecting people to routinely distrust authority will probably create more havoc than Pranknet will. Granted, they were a bit too trusting, but that doesn't make them the guilty party. The pranksters are always the ones who should be blamed.

Re:What idiots (2, Informative)

xianthax (963773) | about 5 years ago | (#29005667)

authority, should never, ever, be given the benefit of the doubt just because its labeled as "authority". Such blind trust has caused so much damage throughout the history of human kind its terrifying.

read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment [wikipedia.org]

Re:What idiots (1)

stagg (1606187) | about 5 years ago | (#29005653)

I agree. Trust and critical thinking aren't mutually exclusive. They're both absolutely essential to a properly functioning society IMHO.

Re:What idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005581)

Maybe the "terminally stupid" shouldn't be given a free ride for what they ended up doing, but it still doesn't make intentionally and maliciously abusing trust/naivety any better.

And remember, it's not just the people that make idiots of themselves that suffer. The people that owned the motel had to put up with broken windows and smashed TVs. The victims own stupidity doesn't make the Pranknet lot any less culpable.

Grody (0)

Joe Jay Bee (1151309) | about 5 years ago | (#29005493)

Having succumbed to baser urges, Malik [...] is now stuck dealing with the messy consequences.

I find the messy consequences after succumbing to my baser urges to be quite easily cleaned up, actually. Has this guy not heard of tissues or something?

Re:Grody (1)

redcaboodle (622288) | about 5 years ago | (#29005651)

Having succumbed to baser urges, Malik [...] is now stuck dealing with the messy consequences.

I find the messy consequences after succumbing to my baser urges to be quite easily cleaned up, actually. Has this guy not heard of tissues or something?

You are confusing your lower urges with your base urges.

How About Personal responsibility (-1, Flamebait)

rueger (210566) | about 5 years ago | (#29005533)

I read this story, and marvel that anyone could be dimwitted enough to follow through on some of the prankster's suggestions.

How can these people go this far without once going "Hmmm, something doesn't make sense here..."?

If I was dumb enough to get tricked by these idiots I'd at least have the sense to shut up and not tell anyone.

Re:How About Personal responsibility (1)

redcaboodle (622288) | about 5 years ago | (#29005749)

If I was dumb enough to get tricked by these idiots I'd at least have the sense to shut up and not tell anyone.

Not bloody likely as you would have to explain the damages and chaos you caused.

I can understand the fun and feeling of superiority when tricking obviously stupid persons into doing obviously stupid things. We all do this now and then with stupid (l)users but most of us draw the line at causing actual damage. As to inflicting emotional stress of the victim, the prankster's mercy usual correlates directly with the character of the victim. If he/she is an asshole they may be required to take a lot more than someone perceived as nice or harmless. Going for total strangers is very low, though. Where's the challenge in that?

Still the prankster should have to face the consequences for the acts they caused to happen. More so if the damage was intentional.

What a rare punishment is avarice to itself! - Aye, with our help sir. A quote from "Volpone - or the Fox." still going strong in theatres after 400 years with a strong theme of Schadenfreude and abuse of stupidity. Schadenfreude goes a long way - especially in the safety of a theatre audience.

Re:How About Personal responsibility (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#29005779)

Sure you would... so you say... reading about it safely on your computer, knowing the truth ahead of time. When somebody wakes you up in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar setting (hotel room) claiming your life is in danger, you have to decide fast, go against "authority" and maybe get killed, or do what they say? You don't know.

If somebody burst into your home at night claiming to be police, would you be a "dumb dimwit" and believe them, or maintain your cocksure skepticism and wind up like this woman [wikipedia.org] ?

very disturbing (-1, Troll)

speedtux (1307149) | about 5 years ago | (#29005553)

I don't find it all that disturbing that people make these prank calls, I find it disturbing that people fall for them. It's particularly disturbing that people who my own security and well-being depends on--hotel and restaurant staff--are stupid enough to fall for these kinds of pranks. If they can be duped into peeing onto each other and drinking urine, what kinds of stupid things are they going to do with my food and my keys?

If pranknet causes these people to be more careful in the future (or to just gather a couple of Darwin awards), I'd feel safer.

Opportunity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005555)

Hrmm... what could we do with this piece of trash. I'm sure slashdot is a lot more competent than those goons.

Good job this guys an asshole (1)

hairykrishna (740240) | about 5 years ago | (#29005603)

It's lucky in one sense that this guy was just an immature asshole. He's obviously pretty good at manipulating people over the phone. He could probably have got away with some more high impact crimes. Luckily now he's just going to go to jail for some relatively minor stuff.

Re:Good job this guys an asshole (2, Informative)

Beetle B. (516615) | about 5 years ago | (#29005649)

Luckily now he's just going to go to jail for some relatively minor stuff.

Thus far no one seems interested in prosecuting. The article itself implied it due to the complications of dealing with another country. The people involved in the outing had an interview [www.ctv.ca] on CTV:

The Smoking Gun says it has turned over the information it has uncovered to the FBI, but no charges have been laid against any PrankNET member. While local police have investigated each prank, the FBI and the RCMP have not confirmed whether a cross-border investigation is underway.

What crime makes them criminals? (0)

thefringthing (1502177) | about 5 years ago | (#29005609)

The worst I can think of would be harassment, mischief, and maybe some kind of impersonation. Do you seriously think they'll go to jail for any of that? The people who destroyed thousands of dollars' worth of property were the braindead idiots who were targeted by the calls, not the members of PrankNet. They trashed hotel rooms and so forth of their own accord, no one made them do anything.

Re:What crime makes them criminals? (5, Informative)

kent_eh (543303) | about 5 years ago | (#29005739)

The Criminal Code of Canada states (emphasis mine):

22. (1) Where a person counsels another person to be a party to an offence and that other person is afterwards a party to that offence, the person who counselled is a party to that offence, notwithstanding that the offence was committed in a way different from that which was counselled.
(2) Every one who counsels another person to be a party to an offence is a party to every offence that the other commits in consequence of the counselling that the person who counselled knew or ought to have known was likely to be committed in consequence of the counselling.
(3) For the purposes of this Act, "counsel" includes procure, solicit or incite. [R.S., c.C-34, s.22; R.S.C. 1985, c.27 (1st Supp.), s.7(1).]

Given that Malik and at least one other pranknetter are Canadians, I bet that would apply nicely.

As juvenile and deplorable as the whole thing is.. (1, Informative)

stagg (1606187) | about 5 years ago | (#29005623)

Perhaps those receiving the prank calls should use some critical thinking before they obey those claiming to be authority and have their best interests in mind. Still, lying to someone and then laughing when they believe you is painfully juvenile

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005639)

A) these Pranknet people are asshats, and really need to be shut down. Probably for some kind of fraud (claiming they were at the front desk) or impersonating an officer (if they say they're with a fire department).

*BUT*
          B) He *is* absolutely right. People are really REALLY fucking stupid. Regarding the gas prank for instance, who's going to break out windows because someone on the phone told them too? 1) Doesn't every one know that gas smells? (note the smell *is* artificial, so in Morocco for instance it doesn't...but in US it does). 2) Don't windows open? 3) And if there's a concern about sparks, I would think common sense indicates smashing the crap out of a TV is the last thing to do to *avoid* sparks. 4) Either way, who would expect some fire dept or whoever to call a room to have them smash stuff, instead of getting out and letting someone with breathing gear or whatever do it?

          C) I think the movie comment by girlintraining is spot-on too. if they had someone waiting downstairs that paid for damage to the hotel and paid the prank-ees, it'd probably be on TV alongside Jackass as a comedy TV show. Honestly, even when I saw them shitting in the (display-room) toilets, I simultaneously laughed and felt bad for the store owners.. I figure Pranknet would give the same reaction.

Birds of a feather (4, Informative)

lacoronus (1418813) | about 5 years ago | (#29005683)

Seems like one of the Pranknet guys (Markle) was jailed for two years for raping a five-year-old [thesmokinggun.com] . He "warned the girl that he would kill her parents if she did not comply with him".

Godwinning this thread... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29005709)

In style. [wikipedia.org]

(Capcha is 'needless', heh)

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