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Undergound. Go to Table of Contents.

   the company.

  

   Antrax collected some 008 numbers and fiddled with them. He discovered

   that if he punched another number in very quickly over the top of the

   ringing--just after the click--he could make the line divert to where

   he wanted it to go. He used the 008 numbers to ring phone conferences

   around the world, where he hung out with other phreakers, particularly

   Canadians such as members of the Toronto-based UPI or the Montreal

   group, NPC, which produced a phreakers' manual in French. The

   conversation on the phreaker's phone conferences, or phone bridges as

   they are often called, inevitably turned to planning a prank. And

   those Canadian guys knew how to prank!

  

   Once, they rang the emergency phone number in a major Canadian city.

   Using the Canadian incarnation of his social engineering accents,

   Anthrax called in a `police officer in need of assistance'. The

   operator wanted to know where. The phreakers had decided on the Blue

   Ribbon Ice-Cream Parlour. They always picked a spot within visual

   range of at least one member, so they could see what was happening.

  

   In the split second of silence which followed, one of the five other

   phreakers quietly eavesdropping on the call coughed. It was a short,

   sharp cough. The operator darted back on the line.

  

   `Was that A GUN SHOT? Are you SHOT? Hello? John?' The operator leaned

   away from her receiver for a moment and the phreakers heard her

   talking to someone else in the background. `Officer down.'

  

   Things moved so fast when pranking. What to do now?

  

   `Ah, yeah. Yeah.' It was amazing how much someone squeezing laughter

   back down his oesophagus can sound like someone who has been shot.

  

   `John, talk to me. Talk to me,' the operator pleaded into the phone,

   trying to keep John alert.

  

   `I'm down. I'm down,' Anthrax strung her along.

  

   Anthrax disconnected the operator from the conference call. Then the

   phreaker who lived near the ice-cream parlour announced the street had

   been blocked off by police cars. They had the parlour surrounded and

   were anxiously searching for an injured fellow officer. It took

   several hours before the police realised someone had played a mean

   trick on them.

  

   However, Anthrax's favourite prank was Mr McKenny, the befuddled

   southern American hick. Anthrax had selected the phone number at

   random, but the first prank was such fun he kept coming back for more.

   He had been ringing Mr McKenny for years. It was always the same

   conversation.

  

   `Mr McKenny? This is Peter Baker. I'd like my shovel back, please.'

  

   `I don't have your shovel.'

  

   `Yeah, I lent it to you. Lent it to you like two years ago. I want it

   back now.'

  

   `I never borrowed no shovel from you. Go away.'