DOCUMENT: Internet, Crime

FBI Targets Prankster Who Harassed Police

Suspect used Skype to place phony emergency calls


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Skype Prank Calls

MARCH 30--In what should serve as a warning to telephone pranksters, the FBI last week raided the Wisconsin home of a 20-year-old man suspected of using Skype to place hundreds of hoax calls this year to sheriff’s departments in Florida and Minnesota.

The prank calls, placed to toll free emergency service numbers, resulted in deputies responding to many “false reports of individuals in danger, some of whom purportedly suffered life threatening injuries,” according to an FBI affidavit.

Federal agents began probing the rash of prank calls in late-January after being contacted by an investigator with Florida’s St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, who reported that the agency had received about 180 prank calls that month.

A two-month bureau probe resulted in the March 21 raid of the Oshkosh, Wisconsin home of Mason Seckar, who is identified as a suspect in the prank calls. The FBI affidavit alleges that the calls constitute violations of federal laws governing harassing phone calls and threatening communications.

The FBI’s interest in pursuing alleged hoax callers like Seckar should be of concern to Pranknet, the members of which commit similar criminal prank call every day of the week (and broadcast them live on the Internet).

According to the affidavit sworn by Agent Sean Pruitt, Seckar is also suspected of placing prank calls to dispatchers with the Rice County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota. Seckar did not respond to a message sent to his e-mail account, and his mother hung up on a reporter who called the family’s home.

One prank call cited by Pruitt involved a male caller who said he was in the bathroom of a McDonald’s with his “five year old girlfriend,” and that he wanted to be arrested. Fearing that a child was in danger, seven Florida deputies responded to eight McDonald’s locations, while five dispatchers worked for about two hours. “After extensive response by numerous officers from various agencies, no caller or victim was located and the call was considered a hoax,” reported Pruitt.

The prank calls seemed to come from a series of different phone numbers, though it appears the numbers were “spoofed” to hide the actual number from which the calls were placed. Still, the prank calls were traced to Seckar’s Skype account through an analysis of phone records and subpoenaed account information from Skype and Yahoo.

During a late-January call to Rice County’s emergency line, the caller claimed that he wanted to become a police officer and “wanted to know what it felt like to be ‘tased.’” He also claimed to be interested in becoming a school teacher, but was worried that he would “make inappropriate advances toward the young girls.”

The caller, Agent Pruitt noted, also said that “he was interested in airplane aerobatics.” Seckar is the creator/administrator of a Facebook page devoted to AirVenture, an annual Oshkosh air show featuring numerous aerobatic teams. (15 pages)

Comments (25)

WHAT A STUPID *** IDIOT! If I had the chance, I'd punch him in the face with my brass knuckles, shock him in the balls with my pretty pink stungun, then give him an ear to ear smile, Black Dahlia-style, with my dullest knife (makes it more painful) then snatch his cell phone and run off...... Then he would see what happens when someone needs 911 help but can't get it cause someone else is "bored". shiat dude, you're bored? Smoke a damn blunt and watch a really dumb movie (they are much better when you're stoned). But, come to think of it, I should not recommend anything to you that kills brain cells, as it is clear you only have a handful left.....
While I think its kinda evidence of Darwin, that some people are stupid enough to smash windows & wall at the urging of an anonymous caller,(and cracks me up no end..) I think that when they call 911 and report falsely, THAT'S ALREADY A FELONY!! Hammer those asshats like a bag of nails.
TSG has been miles ahead of law enforcement on exposing some of the Pranknet characters. Any chance of doing an investigation of the phishing gang that has been making those "Rachel from Card Holder Services" calls to everyone's cell phones for the past four years? They seem to have the feds completely stumped.
Whoooaaaahh! People need to get things in perspective here. Prank calls to emergency services are indeed dangerous, as it takes services away from those in real danger. HOWEVER; when someone gets a phone call from 'the front desk' asking the person to destroy the room in order to save their life, then that person needs to have a long good look at their own level of education if they actually consider this to be a true call from front desk. Prank calls have existed since Bell invented the telephone; it has just escalated with the level of technology from ordering pizza to someone house to getting idiots to put their own lives at risk and smash things up. If you got a call saying there was a dangerous gas leak and you needed to put towels under the door and smash the wall to get to an emergency shut off valve, would you not think twice before carrying out the orders of someone on the END OF A TELEPHONE! (I suppose religious types probably would, they follow the words of someone they don't know or even have any proof of existence every day.)
You should look up social engineering. It's their motto, and it's a real phenomenon.. What Pranknet does, works because it's a system. First you throw them off guard, then when they're vulnerable, you strike. You assert your dominance and convince them you are an authoritative figure that they have to listen to. You don't give them a chance to think you might not be who you say are, much less pause and question it. The system doesn't work on everyone, but it does work on a lot of people. It's easy to get them to do one ridiculous thing (like bust out a window) it's only after you start tacking on lots of other ridiculous actions that they have the time to think, and while doing those things, have time to think things through. I see these types of comments popping up on like every Pranknet article, and I have a suspicion that everyone who makes these comments are simply part of the Pranknet audience. Dex was never shy about using anyone and everyone in the room for his own purposes.. I know that and how the system works because I used to be a member. Let me ask you, is it the victims fault when they get robbed at gun point? How about getting their (secured house) burglarized? Sure there are plenty of ways they could have prevented it, but no amount of preparation is going to be 100% safe, there is a system to it, and it's used because it works, no different than the social engineering Dex and Pranknet use..
I understand social engineering and have read quite a bit about it, although mainly the governments use of SE rather than the use by the likes of pranknet.
Rationalizing criminally antisocial behavior is a bad sign, buddy. Might want to get your head checked out.
"I suppose religious types probably would, they follow the words of someone they don't know or even have proof of existence every day" You mean like how Muslims blow themselves and everyone else around them up because they were 'told' to? I don't think their god uses a telephone, but maybe if the voice had a really loud, booming and echoey voice.......
Or like the protestants blow up car bombs killing catholics, or like how the crazy creationists KNOW that we were on earth at the same time as dinosaurs, or how christians stomped across the middle east (the first time) and called it 'Gods Crusade'? Tell you what; come back when you can rationalise a point into a valid standpoint in an argument. Or go to a LIBRARY you ***
Since Bell invented the telephone? I can only imagine what a 1876 prank call would be like. "Is your refrigerator running?" 'Yes.' 'How is that possible? They haven't been invented yet.'
Does it get cold up there in your ivory tower looking down at the world? Better put on a coat.
Actually, no. It's quite toasty up here burning religious books about spaghetti monsters et al to keep warm. Also, the warm glow from my plasma TV keeps it at a fairly constant level. Is it cold where you are?
If you would carry out the orders of this unknown voice, then you need to commit yourself to an asylum ASAP, or kill yourself and do the genepool a favour.
Pranknet members deserve to be kicked in the balls in shifts. Jesus, what a bunch of sad, pathetic losers...
Pranknet's pranks are indeed illegal, but I wouldn't say "Dangerous". The woman who went nuts at BK was WAY more 'dangerous' than Pranknet. She was hitting people, she was endangering their health. For example, if I was staying in a hotel room and I recieved a call saying "Yeah this is the front desk, I need you to rip the toilet seat off and use it to break sprinklers and windows out." there would be a 0% chance of this occuring. My response would be "I guess you should send someone up here to break stuff then, because I'm not going to tear up a hotel room in my name." I'm not exactly in danger unless I do something, you know, stupid. I can't figure out why Motel 6 still has the direct dial-to-room feature. If the direct dial feature allows people to bypass the front desk without providing the last name of the tenants, then the front desk should be routing calls by now...
How can you say they're not dangerous? Anything can happen at any time. What if a responding officer(s) was killed in an automobile accident while responding at high speeds to a *harmless* prank call? Or shot someone by mistake?
WOW! Wanxansi4x, you need to use a better Translation Service because your current one ain't cutting it!
TSG has no more a personal vendetta against the Pranknet dorks than the average person reading about their dangerous idea of having fun. TSG is doing an important job reporting their activities and hopefully helping to put some necessary heat on them. If you don't get that then I understand why you think Pranknet is hilarious.
i get how pranknet is hilarious and newsworthy, but all the constant references/screeds on here make it seem like the TSG guys have some sort personal vendetta. would be interested to see the backstory on this
Actually, their vendetta isn't personal enough. TSG needs to ruin their lives one by one.
PrankNet is comprised of a bunch of losers that live in their parents basement and/or couldn't get laid without paying a whore. I will laugh my ass off on the day TSG posts a story about their arrest.
Sorry, but Pranknet is not hilarious. They are dangerous individuals involved in an ongoing criminal enterprise, and they need to see the inside of a prison for a very prolonged period of time. I praise TSG for reporting on Pranknet and for their concern in wanting to bring Pranknet to justice.
Agreed. Not funny at all. Also, the administrator of Pranknet is incredibly ugly.
If you think Pranknet is hilarious, then it's obvious why you do not get why TSG posts all of these stories about these perps getting busted.
this is crazy