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Sunday, June 28, 2009

CPD investigating serial prank caller

serial prank callHotels across the country have been hit with prank calls in recent days, all following a consistent theme. The caller claims to be a representative from SimplexGrinnell, a company that installs and maintains fire alarm systems, and convinces an employee that there is a problem with the alarm and it needs to be "reset" by pulling on an activation handle. When the alarm goes off, the caller is told that every overhead fire sprinkler in the building will activate unless they "disable" the sprinkler system by striking an automatic sprinkler head, which triggers the sprinkler. In the case of the local hotel, the caller also said that smashing windows would deactivate the alarm.

The prank is similar to one found on in which the caller identifies himself as "dex". Conway Police Department was contacted by a Tennessee woman, Jericho Batsford of Knoxville, claiming that she knows the identity of the prankster "dex" and could confirm that "dex" was responsible for the call and was willing to cooperate with authorities in bringing criminal charges against him.

Batsford said she had been a fan of "dex," and has participated in prank calls with him under the alias "jericoNtn." When the nature of the calls changed from harmless to harmful, she doesn't think of it as a funny pranks and practical jokes anymore. Batsford said "dex" is a man in his mid-20s that has no job and makes some money selling CDs of his prank calls. She knows his identity because she once wired him money through Western Union.

Her information has been received by the FBI, according to Special Agent Jason Pack of the bureau's National Press Office. Though he couldn't confirm that the FBI was considering the calls a federal crime. Local law enforcement is pursing the leads also and actual representatives from SimplexGrinnell have spoken with 20th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Marcus Vaden about pursuing charges against the caller also. There are difficulties in prosecuting someone from another country, Vaden said, but whether or not "dex" can be caught remains to be seen.



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