Pranknet Boss Hoaxed ESPN Reporter
Audio reveals Malik up to his old destructive tricks
OCTOBER 25--As suspected in these parts, last week’s telephone prank victimizing an ESPN reporter was the handiwork of Pranknet and was actually placed by the Canada-based leader of the online vandalism group, according to a recording of the call.
Early last Thursday morning, Elizabeth Moreau received a call in her room at the Hilton Garden Inn in Gainesville, Florida from a man purporting to be “Jeff Anderson,” the hotel’s manager. The caller was actually Tariq Malik, the 26-year-old Pranknet founder who lives with his mother in a Windsor, Ontario apartment. Malik is pictured at left.
A recording of the elaborate October 21 hoax, which was broadcast live in the Pranknet chat room, can be listened to below (the tape was uploaded to a YouTube page devoted to similar hoaxes orchestrated by Malik and his cronies). NOTE: The tape is NSFW due to cursing and Malik's use of a racial slur at the outset of the recording.
Moreau, who covers college sports for ESPNU, was told of an “emergency situation” at the Hilton. The 27-year-old reporter was led to believe that there was a gas leak at the hotel, and was first instructed by “Anderson” to place a wet towel at the base of the room’s front door. Moreau replied, “Are you kidding?” Malik responded, “No, I’m not kidding, ma’am. This is an emergency.”
As Moreau went to get the towel, Malik, 26, quickly addressed his Pranknet audience, referring to a recommendation that had been typed into a communal chat window by listener “Lamar 33.” He then asked his audience to vote on the suggestion by typing “1” for yes, and “2” for no.
When Moreau returned to the phone, Malik claimed that the “authorities” had instructed him to direct hotel guests to establish “full oxygen clearance” in their rooms by breaking out windows with a toilet tank lid. A hesitant Moreau, who had been awakened by Malik’s call, replied, “You really want me to throw this thing out the window?” Malik urgently stressed that, “We’ve already had to do this for four other rooms so far. Please, ma’am, it’s an emergency.”
After questioning whether, “I’m strong enough to do this,” Moreau tossed the lid through the window (the resulting cascade of glass can be clearly heard on the recording). “Well, one worked well,” Moreau announced. She then noted, “I’m so fucking freaked out right now.”
Though his mission was accomplished, Malik continued the prank.
He directed Moreau to “unplug your electrical appliances because they do contain electrical charges and so we don’t want any situation where they could potentially explode.” After having Moreau identify herself by name, the Pranknet boss then claimed to be connecting her to his supervisor, who would arrange for a room refund.
At this point, Malik--who places his calls via Skype--conferenced Moreau in with a Hilton Garden Inn front desk employee named Scott. Switching roles, Malik told the hotel worker that he had gotten into an argument with his wife Elizabeth and she “got upset ‘cause I cheated on her and she broke the window, we’re gonna need a new room.”
Moreau responded, “Are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me right now that you just did this? Who is this?” Malik remained silent as Moreau continued speaking with the confused hotel clerk, telling him, “Someone just pranked me and said that my room was on fire and I needed to throw the top of my…is this a joke?”
Malik then jumped back into the conversation, pretending to wrestle the phone from his wife. “This is not funny to me right now,” Moreau said. “I’m gonna fucking call 911.” Malik responded, “You shoulda sucked my dick harder, I told you that I like to get head.”
Moreau then yelled, “Who are you?” before hanging up the phone.
Since officers classified the Hilton hoax as a “suspicious incident,” the matter was not initially assigned to a detective for further investigation. However, the existence of a recording of the call (in addition to TSG’s identification of Malik as the perpetrator) today led cops to assign a detective to the case, according to Captain Ed Book, spokesman for the Gainesville Police Department. A copy of the Gainesville Police Department report on the Hilton incident can be found here. (2 pages)