SmokingGun Website: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/
AUGUST 4--At 4:15 AM on a recent Tuesday, on a quiet, darkened street in Windsor, Ontario, a man was wrapping up another long day tormenting and terrorizing strangers on the telephone. Working from a sparsely furnished two-bedroom apartment in a ramshackle building a block from the Detroit River, the man, nicknamed "Dex", heads a network of so-called pranksters who have spent more than a year engaged in an orgy of criminal activity--vandalism, threats, harassment, impersonation, hacking, and other assorted felonies and misdemeanors--targeting U.S. businesses and residents.
Coalescing in an online chat room, members of the group, known as Pranknet, use the telephone to carry out cruel and outrageous hoaxes, which they broadcast live around-the-clock on the Internet. Masquerading as hotel employees, emergency service workers, and representatives of fire alarm companies, "Dex" and his cohorts have successfully prodded unwitting victims to destroy hotel rooms and lobbies, set off sprinkler systems, activate fire alarms, and damage assorted fast food restaurants. A seven-week investigation by The Smoking Gun has begun to unravel "Dex"'s organization and chronicle the sprawl of its criminality. The TSG probe has also stripped Pranknet's leader and some of his cohorts of their anonymity, which will likely come as welcome news to the numerous law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, probing the group's activities.
On July 21, a pair of TSG reporters approached "Dex"'s building at 1637 Assumption Street in Windsor, where he lives in the ground-floor 'B' apartment. Calling to his mother, who was standing near an open living room window, a reporter asked her to summon her son. The woman disappeared into "Dex"'s adjoining bedroom, where the pair could be heard whispering. Despite repeated requests to come out and speak with TSG, "Dex" hid with his mother in his bedroom, the windows of which were covered with plastic shopping bags, a towel, and one black trash bag.