Hoax Museum Blog: Pranks

GOP URL Shortener put to unintended use — Yesterday the GOP debuted its own URL shortener. Wired.com describes the results: Almost immediately after it launched yesterday, pranksters began using the service to link to controversial or ironically-intended websites such as the official site of the American Communist Party, a bondage website and a webpage advertising a sex toy in the likeness of Barack Obama. GOP.am started blocking such links apparently at some point Tuesday morning, and the GOP.am homepage is now offline.
Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2009.   Comments (1)

A fork in the road, literally — A few days ago a fork appeared in the middle of a Pasadena road. It's located, appropriately, at a fork in the road, where Pasadena and St. John avenues divide. From the Pasadena Star News: It turns out the fork is an elaborate - and expensive - birthday prank in honor of the 75th birthday of Bob Stane, founder of the Ice House comedy club, who now owns the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena... The wooden fork, is "expertly carved and painted," to look like metal, Stane said. "It's…
Posted: Fri Nov 06, 2009.   Comments (6)

Treasure hunt prank, from beyond the grave — Patty Henken found a small envelope in a rocking chair she bought at auction. In the envelope was a key and a note giving her directions to where $250 in U.S. gold coins was supposedly buried in a lead chest. The note was signed "Chauncey Wolcott." There was also a request to contact the State Journal-Register newspaper of Springfield, if the treasure was found. The Associated Press tells the rest: With help of a donated backhoe, Patty Henken tore up a vacant lot in Springfield, Ill...
Posted: Sun Oct 04, 2009.   Comments (12)

The Lying Down Craze — An internet fad that managed to escape my attention is the "lying down" craze, in which people post photos of themselves lying face down, hands against their sides, in unusual locations. This sounded like fun to a group of British doctors and nurses: "The staff were pictured face down on resuscitation trolleys, ward floors and the air ambulance heli-pad during a night shift at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Wilts." Their mistake was to then post the photos on Facebook. Seven of…
Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2009.   Comments (5)


Wave of Hotel Pranks — As noted by Beasjt in the forum, there's been a case of a phone prankster tricking a couple into smashing up a hotel room by telling them there's a gas leak. I reported a case of an identical prank in April. The Boston Herald describes these incidents as part of a "wave of hotel pranks": The Monday incident follows others from around the country: In Arkansas, a caller posing as a sprinkler company employee convinced a motel employee to do more than $50,000 in damage to a motel as…
Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2009.   Comments (9)

Woman “prank calls” her own grandmother — Calling a store and asking "have you got Prince Albert in a can" is a prank call. Calling your grandmother 45 times and saying "You're going to die" is not a prank call. It's a sign of serious psychological issues. [google] A 21-year-old woman faces felony charges after allegedly prank-calling her 69-year-old grandmother 45 times in one day, threatening to kill her. The woman faces five felony counts including harassment. A criminal complaint said she told police she was "bored" and…
Posted: Mon Jul 06, 2009.   Comments (3)

Where is my pond? — At 9 a.m. George Terry Dinnie left his house to walk Buckley, his bouvier des Flandres. When he returned, an hour-and-a-half later, he discovered that his 2500 gallon pond had disappeared. He figures someone took it, though he doesn't know why or how someone removed that much water: "They pumped the water out faster than I can fill it up again. It's as weird as weird can be." Something fishy is going on. That's for sure. [morning call]
Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2009.   Comments (7)

Pranksters move Loch Ness signs — Pranksters in Inverness have made it even more difficult to find Nessie by moving the road signs for Loch Ness so that they point in the wrong direction. The leading suspects are concert-goers attending the RockNess music festival. But here's the part of the article I found interesting. One resident "likened the alterations to World War II, when the authorities removed signs to prevent German soldiers from navigating their way round the country if they invaded." I didn't know that had…
Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2009.   Comments (12)

The Jiffy Prank — Apparently there's a tradition of past employees of Jiffy Lube breaking into the store and stealing the bleeder valve on the compressor, thus rendering the machine useless. It's called the "Jiffy prank." At least, that's the excuse Paul Marvella is giving to explain why he took the valve. He later returned it, but nevertheless the store is charging him with felony commercial burglary. [Hernando Today]
Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009.   Comments (3)

The Barrel Monster — Proof that the art of the student prank hasn't quite died. N.C. State University student Joseph Carnevale has been arrested and is facing misdemeanor charges for damage to property after creating a "barrel monster" that menacingly pointed its finger at motorists on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. The creation of the monster is documented at nopromiseofsafety.com. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Its that itch, that need to make real an idea that has rolled around in one’s head for…
Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009.   Comments (8)

Sprinkler System Activated — A telephone caller, posing as a representative of a fire alarm company, convinced employees of a Comfort Suites Hotel to activate the sprinkler system, which resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage. (tricities.com) This type of prank is definitely a recurring theme (see the rectal exam prank call, strip-search prank call, and satellite medical exam call), but I'm not sure what to call it. Maybe the "manipulative phone call prank," though that's not very catchy.
Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2009.   Comments (5)

The South American Reetsa Expedition — If you're well-versed in hoax lore, you might have heard the story of the South American Reetsa Expedition. It's a hoax attributed to the New York City prankster Brian G. Hughes, who was active as a hoaxer from around 1895 to 1910. (He died in 1924.) He pulled off quite a few hoaxes. Around 1895 he submitted a cat to the New York cat show, claiming it was a rare breed known as the Dublin Brindle. After it won a prize, he revealed it was just an alley cat. A few years later he tried a…
Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2009.   Comments (6)

Are senior pranks a disappearing tradition? — The Dallas Morning News worries that in many Texas schools the senior prank is a fast disappearing tradition. The reasons for its departure: high-tech security and stricter discipline standards. One senior is quoted as saying, "Maybe we'd do something if there weren't cameras everywhere and punishments weren't so crazy." Well, it's not disappearing everywhere. This year students at Fort Walton Beach High School slipped the "F word" into the yearbook by spelling it out in red letters…
Posted: Thu Jun 04, 2009.   Comments (7)

Welsh road signs — The BBC reports that Welsh-language road signs mysteriously appeared on the Longthorpe Parkway in Cambridgeshire. They suspect it was the work of a practical joker. Presumably a Welsh practical joker.
Posted: Fri May 29, 2009.   Comments (2)

What Students Want — Scottish high school students were given a survey to find out what resources they would like to see in the area to help it develop. The answer: fast-food restaurants, cinemas, and a brothel. [BBC]
Posted: Mon May 11, 2009.   Comments (14)

Car Wrapped Around Flag Pole — Students at Fruita Monument High School in Colorado welded an Eagle hatchback around the school's flag pole as a senior prank. It took them an hour and 15 minutes of welding to do it. Now this is more like what a prank should be... not like that garden-planting prank from a few weeks ago. [KITV]
Posted: Thu May 07, 2009.   Comments (7)

Domino’s Video Prank — One of the mysteries of law enforcement in the age of YouTube: Why do people proudly post videos of themselves engaged in illegal acts? They're just begging to have the police come knocking on their door. So anyway, the latest example of video self-incrimination involves two Domino's employees who created a prank video showing one of them farting on the food and sticking it up his nose as the other one laughed and egged him on. They posted the video on YouTube and it promptly went…
Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009.   Comments (4)

Is it really a prank? — Seniors at Westlake High School in Texas are being praised. For their senior prank, they chose to build a garden in a traffic island. Hmm. I think it's a nice gesture, but is it really a prank? At my High School I think the senior class all chipped in to donate a bench, but we never called it a prank. However, if the Westlake seniors surreptitiously planted seeds in their garden that will sprout a year from now, spelling a rude message, then I'll be impressed. [wlfi.com]
Posted: Wed Apr 15, 2009.   Comments (9)

Never Gonna Pay You Anything — Pete Waterman wrote the song Never Gonna Give You Up, which is the focal point of the massively popular Rickrolling prank. But he's now complaining that, despite the millions of times that video has been viewed online, he's earned only £11 from Google for all those views. He earns more from his local radio station playing the song than he does from YouTube. Welcome to the internet economy, Mr. Waterman! [Telegraph]
Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2009.   Comments (6)

Neighborhood dispute gets ugly — The term Neighbor From Hell seems an appropriate one for Julie Rank-Earley. Her neighbor once filed a police complaint about her, resulting in a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Instead of letting the issue drop, Rank-Earley decided to up the ante by subscribing to hundreds of dollars worth of pornographic magazines in the name of her neighbor. Her neighbor simply complained to the police again when she started getting all the bills. Now Rank-Earley is sitting in jail. [Dayton…
Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2009.   Comments (1)

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