Vile Phone Prank Pulled On Iraq Vet
Pranknet sociopaths somehow find way to hit new low
Amarillo Motel Prank
Amarillo Motel Prank
Amarillo Motel Prank
Amarillo Motel Prank
Amarillo Motel Prank
DECEMBER 14--In a new act of depravity, a pair of telephone terrorists last week gleefully humiliated an Army paratrooper during a bizarre telephone prank that resulted in the soldier actually ingesting his own waste products, The Smoking Gun has learned. The duo was so impressed with their demented handiwork that one of the pranksters declared that the 22-year-old victim--who served nearly a year in Iraq--“ain’t getting a PTSD from Iraq, he’s getting it from…the call.”
The December 5 hoax was perpetrated by Tariq Malik, whose online crime spree TSG has frequently detailed, and a second member of Pranknet, the odious Internet cabal founded by Malik, a 26-year-old Canadian citizen. Malik was assisted on last Sunday’s call to a Motel 6 in Amarillo, Texas by Steven Brown, a 43-year-old computer programmer from McHenry, Illinois.
Like fellow denizens of Pranknet--which is also known these days as “Prank U”--Brown hides behind a nickname (he prefers variations including the word “zeus”) and anonymously harasses subjects via calls placed over Skype. This is the first time Brown, a veteran Pranknet figure who apparently thought his anonymity was secure, has been exposed for his involvement with the group, which is primarily stocked with vandals 20 years his junior. TSG unmasked Brown with the aid of a confidential source and a review of certain business records.
An acquaintance described Brown as a rail-thin pothead who rarely ventures from his residence at 4511 Parkway Avenue (where he works from home). Brown did not return a message left by TSG on his cell phone. He later removed his outgoing message, which contained his voice. And by yesterday morning, Brown’s number had been disconnected.
According to court records, Brown is the divorced father of a 16-year-old daughter (he also adopted his wife’s son, who is now 20). During divorce proceedings, a judge issued a May 2000 order of protection against Brown after his wife said he threatened to kill her and “take our children where I couldn’t find them.” Sharon Brown also alleged that “he also was physical with me.”
Malik, known online as “dex,” believes that he is beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement owing to his residency in Windsor, Ontario (though this may prove to be a miscalculation on his part). Brown, however, may have more immediate cause for concern over the Amarillo hoax. Over the past year, Texas cops have shown little hesitancy in arresting (and convicting) two Pranknet members for separate hoaxes committed in the state. In fact, James Tyler Markle, formerly known as “Prankster,” was sentenced last month to five years in prison and shipped off to the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville.
The Motel 6 call came late last Sunday evening, as Malik & Co. were trying to prank guests at the budget chain, which is a preferred Pranknet target since callers can get connected to a random room by simply keying in its number. The call was broadcast live in the prank group’s chat room and on the pranku.net web site.
Around 11 PM, Brown dialed Room 119 at Motel 6’s Amarillo East location off Interstate 40 (pictured at left). The phone was answered by a California native who recently left the Army after several years of service. The man--who will be identified here by only his first name, Samuel--was part of an airborne infantry regiment headquartered at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. The paratrooper’s unit spent nearly a year in Iraq, according to military records. Samuel is pictured above in a photo taken during that deployment.
Using a fake name, Brown told Samuel he was calling from the motel’s front desk. Claiming that, “we’ve got a bit of a situation that needs your attention at this point,” Brown told Samuel that the prior occupant of his room “has just reported to us that they have contracted the H1N1 flu virus.” Samuel replied, “Oh, shit.” Brown went on to say that, “we are in contact now with the hospital and the doctor and that they’re telling us that our normal standard sanitation procedures may not have killed entirely the virus.”
The beginning of the December 5 hoax call can be heard here:
As Malik lurked silently on the Skype call, Brown told Samuel that he would patch him through to a doctor who was en route to the motel. Brown then pressed two numbers on his phone, pretending to somehow transfer Samuel to the doctor.
Enter Malik, pretending to be “Dr. Jeff Anderson.” He told Samuel that the room’s previous guest had been quarantined with swine flu, and that he had been in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC, Malik said, had provided him with a list of “steps and procedures” that need to be followed since Samuel “was in the incubation period.”
Over the next 30 minutes, Malik led Samuel through progressively more demented directions that purportedly would protect the young ex-soldier from contracting the H1N1 virus. He first told Samuel to drink a cup of water and then try to “induce vomiting” by putting two fingers down his throat. Since the degradation of victims for the amusement of listeners is a core Pranknet goal, Malik was concerned with audibility, and asked Samuel, “Will the phone reach the bathroom?”
As Samuel could be heard loudly gagging and attempting to retch in the backgroud, Brown briefly got on the phone to assure the online audience, “Yes, it’s live. Yes, it’s real.” Brown could also be heard giggling at points.
After two lengthy attempts, Samuel reported that he was unable to vomit.
Undeterred, Malik then announced that, for safety’s sake, Samuel would have to urinate in a cup. The ex-paratrooper complied, reporting that he had filled the container halfway. That’s when Malik announced that to “kill the incubation period and prevent yourself from expiring in that state,” Samuel would have to drink the urine. The “antibodies and the ammonia in the urine is going to detoxify the virus,” Malik assured Samuel.
Samuel then consumed the urine. For his audience’s amusement, Malik, pictured at left, made sure to ask how it tasted. “Really salty,” replied Samuel.
If the call had ended at this point, it would have been considered “epic” by Pranknet followers. While getting a hotel guest to break windows or toss a TV out a window has become commonplace, getting someone to drink urine is quite an accomplishment. [Markle succeeded in doing this last year at a Kentucky hotel--though he is currently the subject of a felony investigation as a result of that vile episode.]
But Malik is a sociopath. So the gullible and the naïve and the easily conned and the befuddled are deserving of continued brutalization.
He then told Samuel that a stool sample was needed. “There’s a trash bag I could use,” Samuel offered. Malik countered by saying that a pillowcase would be a better choice. Samuel replied, “The pillowcase? Alright.” He then put down the phone and embarked on providing the sample.
“This motherfucker is crazy,” Malik whispered to the audience listening as the prank continued to unfold. As they waited for Samuel to return to the phone, Brown was again heard giggling, while Malik announced, “I want to try to get him to eat the shit.”
When Samuel got back on the line, he reported having defecated in the pillowcase. Malik told him to retrieve the pillowcase from the bathroom and return to the phone. Brown whispered a possible direction the prank could go: “Smear in the face, maybe.”
Instead, nearly 15 minutes into the prank call, Malik directed Samuel to bring the pillowcase to the front desk, where it would be collected by a Motel 6 employee. He also had Samuel provide him with his cell phone number, since “we have to do a follow-up as well.”
After hanging up with Samuel, Malik quickly called the motel’s front desk and pretended to be the occupant of Room 119. When Motel 6 worker Megan Ramirez answered the phone, Malik, using Samuel’s full name, complained that his room was filthy and that he was “so sick of the service” and angry that he was going to “shit in my fucking pillowcase and I’m gonna leave that on your front desk.” Ramirez, remaining composed, said that, “It’s a good thing my door is locked,” and threatened to call police.
He then called Samuel, who reported that he had arrived at the lobby, but that the door was locked. The desk clerk, Samuel added, was on the phone.
Ramirez, as it turned out, was calling the cops. According to an Amarillo Police Department report, Ramirez told a 911 operator that a customer was outside the locked lobby doors “threatening to poop in a pillow case and throw it” at her.
Ramirez's 911 call to police can be heard here:
For the next ten minutes, Malik placed calls back and forth to Samuel and the motel’s front desk. When Ramirez wouldn’t pick up one call, Brown exclaimed, “She’s scared to death.” But unable to get Ramirez to open the door (and accept the specimen), Malik directed Samuel to return to his room with the pillowcase.
“I understand this is very difficult,” Malik said before explaining that Samuel would have to ingest a small amount of the fecal matter to keep “the symptoms from setting in.” Malik added, “I understand, sir, that this is unusual, but you just have to look at this, you know, like it’s a life and death matter.”
Samuel then asked, “How do I know that this isn’t like a fucking prank or something?” When Malik assured him it was “not a joking matter,” Samuel said, “Alright.”
After the phone went silent for a bit, Malik asked Samuel what was going on. “I’m about to fucking eat this shit,” the 22-year-old replied. As Samuel was gagging in the background, a loud pounding was heard on the front door of Room 119. Officer Daniel Treadwell had arrived in response to Ramirez’s 911 call. Since Samuel’s cell phone was still connected, Pranknet listeners overheard Treadwell questioning him. At one point, the cop sternly told him, “Wash your hands.”
The arrival of the cops left Malik so ecstatic that screeched a two-word appraisal of his manipulative skills: “God status!”
After the call was disconnected, Malik and Brown were giddy. “That was fucking crazy,” Malik exclaimed. Brown, the chat room’s graybeard, exulted, “That’s a record. No one’s ever shit and ever eaten shit before I don’t think.” Malik added, “Talk about setting the fucking bar!”
Audio of Malik and Brown celebrating can be heard here:
The prank call was so exhilarating for the two black hearts that they seemed unsure it could be topped. “I’m sorry for still living in this moment,” Malik said. “I’m basking in the glory right now. I don’t want to dial another number just yet.” Brown remarked, “How you gonna follow that up?” He added, “It just all seems so mundane now.”
It was probably the closest to post-coital glow that the two degenerates had experienced.
Listen to the pair “basking in the glory” here:
Police records show that cops were summoned back to the Motel 6 30 minutes after Officer Treadwell departed. This time, an employee called 911 to report that other hotel guests were receiving prank calls from someone claiming to be in Room 119. The male caller “was talking to them about fecal matter” and how “the front desk clerks are telling him to ingest it.”
When she reached the property, Officer Vinilla King went to Room 119. While there, Samuel’s cell phone rang and King picked it up. Malik was on the other end of the line--and the call was being broadcast live to Pranknet’s listeners.
With his voice electronically altered, Malik claimed to be “Melinda,” a mother who had caught her son “making some sort of prank call.” King, unaware that she was being hoaxed, confirmed that, “Your son’s been prank calling.” The cop added, “Your son needs to stop this because if we have to go any further with this we will make a report out of it and we will have a warrant issued for his arrest. So he needs to stop this phone prank stuff.”
“Melinda” asked King what her son did, “because he won’t tell me.” King explained that, “He called this phone number and I guess told this guy over here that the room is filled with H1N1 and that he needed to put feces all over everywhere to make it go away.” The cop added, “I don’t know how your son got this number…but you need to take his phone away from him.”
King then handed the phone to Samuel so that “Melinda” could apologize to him.
Unaware that he was actually again speaking to “Dr. Jeff Anderson,” Samuel gave a brief recap of the night’s events, noting that he had consumed his own urine to avoid contracting swine flu and defecated in a pillowcase. He added that he had “considered” eating the feces. At that point, the call was disconnected.
Since TSG began examining Pranknet last year, two of its members have been convicted of crimes related to prank calls they placed. And though others have hit the mattresses in fear of being publicly linked to the group, Malik has actually succeeded in growing his audience after it sagged precipitously following an August 2009 story in these pages.
He has done that primarily by returning to the kind of telephonic criminality upon which Pranknet first made its name. So, from time to time, TSG will endeavor to introduce our readers to the (mostly) Men of Pranknet. Their real names, occupations, and assorted online crimes. So look for our future unmasking of the miscreant known as “DTA_mike.” (4 pages)