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Destructive Phone Pranksters Exploit Workers

Late Night Prank
You find yourself staying in a hotel and get a late night call from the front desk. Apparently, they want you to throw your toilet out the window. Protip: Go ahead and get some independent verification before doing that. Recently, a group called PrankNET has been phoning people and businesses in a effort to get them to engage in bizarre behavior, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars of damage.

Mattresses and Chicken

Posing as a hotel clerk, PrankNET convinced a family of hotel guests at the Orlando Hilton to cause $5,000 in damage to their room, breaking lamps and mirrors and throwing their mattress outside. PrankNET also convinced employees at a Manchester, New Hampshire KFC to set off fire suppression systems and evacuate the building. In York, Nebraska, PrankNET convinced a Hampton Inn worker to set off an alarm, them destroy the front door with a vehicle in an effort to turn off the alarm.

FBI on the Case
PrankNET members get people to comply by posing as security personnel or superiors. In Knoxville, Tennessee, the FBI is pursuing one member of PrankNET alleged to have caused $50,000 in damage at a Holiday Inn Express when an employee set off the sprinkler system and flooded the building.

The Penalties
Most states have their own laws regarding prank calls. States classify most prank calls as misdemeanors, punishable by small fines and/or jail terms of less than one year. If a prank call is made with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass, the call may constitute a felony under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Although rare, if convicted under federal law, a prank caller may spend up to two years in federal prison.

Protecting Yourself
As such attacks may be on the rise, it is a good idea to know what to do before you receive a call. If you are in a hotel room, simply hang up and call the front desk directly. If you are at work, calm down and take things slowly. Callers often cite an emergency, such as a fire, a gas leak, a criminal attack as the reason for taking immediate action. If the call is real, you should be able to get a name, address and a phone number before taking action. If the name is familiar, ask if you can hang up and call them back. When you call them back, use the number you have on file, rather than the number they gave you. If they provide some excuse as to why this is not acceptable, ask them for their number and if it is okay if your supervisor or the authorities can call them back. If this does not work, and they insist there is a true emergency. advise them to hang up and call 911.

BrettTrout

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