Hotel Prank Causes $115,000 In Damages

Phone hoax targeted guest at Nebraska Holiday Inn

Fire Sprinkler

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Holiday Inn "Prank"

JANUARY 14--A Nebraska Holiday Inn suffered damages in excess of $100,000 this week when a phone prankster posing as a hotel employee convinced a guest to set off a sprinkler system, according to police.

The January 9 hoax targeting the Omaha hotel (pictured at right), which caused significant damage to seven guest rooms and a conference room, is identical to scores of prior calls placed to hotels by members of Pranknet, the online band of phone vandals. The group has often targeted Holiday Inn locations because callers can be directly connected to rooms without needing to know guest names.

In light of the six-figure damages, cops are investigating the prank as a felony, according to Officer Aarion Nielsen, an Omaha Police Department spokesperson. Nielsen added that investigators are actively pursuing leads, which may include tracking telephone records. Holiday Inn staff provided police with the phone number from which the hoax apparently was placed; calls to that number (in California’s 530 area code) are now met with an immediate busy signal.

The Omaha prank began with a call to Room 202, which was occupied by businessman Mark Thomas. Posing as a hotel employee, the male caller told the 47-year-old Thomas that a maid had broken a gas line. Thomas was directed to place wet towels at the base of his door, so that dangerous fumes did not enter his room.

The caller, who claimed to be following Fire Department instructions off a computer, then told him to unplug all electrical devices and open the room’s windows, Thomas recalled in a TSG interview. The hoaxster, he added, was “very self-assured and sounded like he was working from a script.”

An Omaha Police Department report notes that the caller then directed Thomas to “break the red glass vial in the sprinkler.” This was purportedly necessary because the device could hold an electrical charge that could lead to an explosion caused by gas seeping into the room.

Thomas broke the bulb, setting off the sprinkler. As the room filled with water, the caller told Thomas that the shut-off valve was located behind the bathroom mirror, which had to be ripped off the wall. The guest complied, only to discover nothing behind the mirror.

The deluge lasted for about 15 minutes, flooding Thomas’s room and adjoining spaces, as well as causing significant damage (as seen above) to the Holiday Inn’s lone meeting space directly downstairs. Hotel owner Kurt Trivedi told TSG that he believed about 5000 gallons of water flooded the hotel, which he opened in 2009.

Trivedi said an insurance adjuster this week estimated that repairs to the hotel would cost approximately $115,000. The hoax, he said, has cost him the use of seven guest rooms and the meeting space, adding that repairs could take about three weeks. (3 pages)

Comments (16)

i cant believe he's still doing it (aka) dex,he's now at room name prank u , nice country we live in huh .
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Private Investigator is right except about the extradition thing... Canada can't send him to the States unless the US authorities make a formal extradition request. I suspect the FBI is already gathering evidence and just waiting for Dex to do something egregious enough to warrant the trouble and expense. If this is his work, then it might be enough to tip the scales.
Some people just can't take a joke...
Like the few sensible ones of the group I too left Pranknet after the KFC prank cos I believed that Dex aka Tariq Malik was losing it and his ego would take the group into the realms of the unbelievable and sure enough he's done it again with this latest f**k up. I would love to go to Windsor, Ontario and personally deal with this guy as it seems the US is powerless to deal with it, so much for the war on terror huh and this is cyber terror too. I am sure that if this happened to someone of some importance Malik would be doing a life sentence by now. It makes no sense at all that this guy is still allowed to get away with this, as it's been going on for nearly three years that I know of. Their total financial damages must tally up to close to a miliion dollars by now. Oh and Dex is always helped, both online and financially by a character called Hempster, don't know his name; though I'm sure Smoking Gun does. Come on Canada pull your fingers out DUDES, get an extradition slapped on Tariq Malik and end this before someone gets really hurt or worse!! P.I. a concerned citizen
If only those PrankNet ***s worked as hard at getting out of their parents' houses as they do making prank calls. The people that are answering are definitely slow though.
Who wouldn't just leave the building? Really a towel under my door to keep out dangerous fumes then open the window? Thanks for the heads up...hang up phone leave building instead.
It seems to me like if Holiday Inns are being targeted by Pranknet, then Holiday Inn should advise their franchisees to warn guests about these phone calls. A simple sign at the registration desk, or even in the rooms themselves next to the phone saying something like "Several Holiday Inns have, unfortunately, fallen victim to vandalism due to telephone calls from unknown persons. These persons claim to be calling from the front desk, and ask guests to take such action as breaking sprinkler heads, breaking mirrors, and throwing furniture through windows. If you receive a phone call that claims to come from the front desk, please hang up the phone and call XXXXXXXXXX (front desk phone number) to inform our staff. If our staff did call your room, they will not be upset, but understanding, when you hang up and call them back."
amen. OR just have them provide a name for the guest in the room. wow, you would think someone could have thought of all this before thousands of dollars in damages at multiple locations.
"BINGO" - "BINGO" - "BINGO"...That about sums it up - it's all about "Common Sense"!!!
Yea, we are surrounded by morons; like people who can't spell "vial" or "chalk" or form complete sentences.
Yea, we are surrounded by internet trolls who have nothing better to do then surf the web in pursuit of fulfilling their self appointed attention whoring positions as spelling and grammar police; those who are unable to form thoughts themselves thus have nothing real or interesting to contribute to a CASUAL forum. There you have your snack now go choke on it. You're welcome.
Thanks for correcting my spelling. You are my hero, you are the king of kings, you are the wind beneath my wings. You are the smell in my shiat, you the fuzz caught in the corner of my toe nails. You are piss dribble from my kock. You are the dingle berry that hangs from my azz hair. Now run along and f**k off. Moron!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you spell now, b**ch. You are an idot to finish readin my post. Now get busy cleaning your double wide and don't be late picking up your mother from Bingo. By the way your mother gives good jlowbobs.
irishcutter21 on Fri, 2011-01-14 14:18....Wow... I hope you don't own a gun - you need anger management classes - or maybe you are beyond that stage!!!! Also, lay off the "Guiness" - (that's a strong Irish beer)!!
Being that the man was 47 years old. This prank just proves we are surrounded by morons. He should have known that breaking the red glass vile would set the sprinklers off. Chaulk this one up to another dumb azz.
What happened to just calling someone and asking if their fridge was running and when they said yes you told them you better go catch it....People now days have no respect for other peoples hard earned property...