Pranknet-Style Hoax Fools ESPN Reporter
Caller tricked guest into breaking windows at Hilton
OCTOBER 21--In a move straight out of the Pranknet playbook, an ESPN reporter early this morning was convinced by an unknown caller to her hotel to break out her room's windows because the building was purportedly on fire.
According to a Gainesville Police Department report, ESPNU reporter Elizabeth Moreau was in her room at a Hilton Garden Inn when a male caller advised “that the hotel was on fire.” The man first directed Moreau, 27, to “lay towels down at the bottom of her front door to prevent smoke from entering her room.” The caller then directed Moreau to use the toilet lid cover to break out the window.
“She then went to the window and used it to break out the window. The window was broken and the toilet lid broke upon falling to the ground outside,” police reported. It is unknown who was responsible for today’s hoax, which cops have classified a "suspicious incident."
Moreau, in Gainesville to cover a women’s volleyball match between the University of Florida and the University of Tennessee, told cops that the caller then advised “that’s what she gets for being a bad ex-wife and further explained she was bad at ‘sucking dick.’” At this point, Moreau, pictured at right, realized she had been pranked.
A front desk clerk told police that “he received the call from a male subject who asked to be transferred to his wife in room 208,” where Moreau happened to be staying.
The ruse is a classic tactic employed by individuals affiliated with Pranknet, the online group of hooligans exposed last year by TSG. Pranknet members frequently called hotels and asked for random room numbers. When a guest picked up--usually in the early morning hours--they would try to convince them that the hotel was on fire or had suffered a dangerous rupture in a gas line. The goal was to have the panicked guest break windows or trigger the sprinkler system. And sometimes both.
As TSG previously reported, Pranknet’s founder, Tariq Malik, last year distributed to certain followers lengthy target lists containing the locations and phone numbers of hundreds of Hilton Garden Inns in the U.S.. The chain was a favorite of Malik & Co. because callers could be patched through to a room without having to know the name of its occupant. (1 page)