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    Phone Losers of America

    enSeptember 18, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • A Hacker's Prank Calls Lead to His ArrestA hacker's prank calls, though entertaining, can have serious consequences including arrest and legal action.

      Brad Carter, also known as Red Box Chili Pepper or RBCP, was a notorious hacker and prank caller, leading the infamous hacking group Phone Losers of America since 1994. He was best known for his prank calls and achieved notoriety within the hacker and phone freak subculture. Despite his various jobs to pay the bills, his true passion was messing with people. However, his life took a dramatic turn when the FBI arrived at his door with a warrant to search his premises and arrest him for fraud and related activity in connection with computers. This was likely due to his involvement in a prank call scheme targeting Safeway. Despite the serious consequences, Brad remained calm and nonchalant, even finding a moment to ponder which prank call might have led to his downfall. This story illustrates the fun and sometimes dangerous world of hacking and prank calls, and the unexpected consequences that can come with it.

    • The PLA: Hackers and Pranksters of the Late 90s and Early 2000sThe PLA, a group of hackers and pranksters, gained fame for their mischievous antics, ranging from harmless fun to high-profile controversies. They inspired new generations of hackers and pranksters, and their legacy continues to impact the tech world. Support independent productions like Modem Mischief to keep the content flowing.

      The PLA, or Phone Losers of America, were a notorious group of hackers and pranksters who gained fame in the late 90s and early 2000s for their mischievous antics. They started as a group of friends in rural Illinois, experimenting with walkie-talkies and phone systems. Their pranks ranged from harmless fun to high-profile controversies, such as hacking Walmart intercoms and inserting themselves into high-profile cases like the JonBenet Ramsey investigation. Their actions were seen as both corporate terrorism and criminal misdeeds, but Brad Carter, the group's leader, maintains that it was all just for fun. The PLA's influence extended beyond their pranks, as they were also an early source of phone phreaking knowledge for the online masses. Despite the controversy and speculation surrounding their actions, the PLA's legacy continues to inspire new generations of hackers and pranksters. Additionally, the podcast episode also highlighted the importance of supporting independent productions like Modem Mischief through Patreon or merchandise purchases. This allows the show to continue producing content for audiences to enjoy.

    • The Dangers of Unchecked Curiosity and Technology ExploitationExploiting technology for personal gain can lead to dangerous consequences, including harm to others and potential legal repercussions.

      The story of Brad, a phone prankster, illustrates how easy it is for individuals to manipulate and exploit technology for personal gain, often leading to dangerous consequences. Brad's fascination with phone systems began with prank calls and evolved into phone phreaking and hacking, eventually leading him to dumpster dive for phone records. However, things took a dark turn when his friend Doug was accidentally crushed in a dumpster while helping him retrieve the records. Brad was unable to prevent the tragedy and was left alone and guilt-ridden in the aftermath. Despite the potential legal repercussions, Brad chose to flee rather than face the consequences of his actions. This story highlights the dangers of unchecked curiosity and the potential harm that can come from exploiting technology.

    • Desperate to start a new life, Brad goes to extreme lengths to secure a jobBrad, driven by a tragic incident, sabotaged co-workers' employment to secure a job for himself, revealing his desperation to begin a new life

      Brad, feeling pushed by a tragic incident, embarked on a new life by leaving home and attempting to blend in with the homeless community. To support himself, he aimed for a cash register job at a Circle K. Unable to secure a job through interviews, Brad resorted to sabotaging the employment of a co-worker, Joe, by calling him at home pretending to be his manager and falsely canceling his shift. When this didn't work, he went as far as flattening Joe's tires. Despite successfully getting Joe fired, Brad continued his plan targeting other employees, Tia and Keith, to secure the job for himself. This shows how desperate Brad was to start a new life and the lengths he was willing to go to achieve his goal.

    • Brad's Pranks Led Him to the Value of Information and ResourcesBrad's hacking skills led him to a job, but his prank caused unintended consequences. Homelessness introduced him to libraries and computers, and he discovered the importance of access to information and resources.

      The character Brad in this text used his hacking and pranking skills for entertainment, but he learned that real-world consequences could come from his actions. He sabotaged a Circle K store to increase his chances of getting a job there, but the experience left him disillusioned. Later, Brad became homeless and discovered the value of libraries and computers while living on university campuses. During this time, he became more involved in the early Internet culture. However, Brad and his friend Zach noticed a certain preciousness within the hacking community. Despite his mischievous behavior, Brad's experiences taught him the value of access to information and resources. Ultimately, his adventures show that the line between harmless pranks and serious consequences can be blurry.

    • The PLA's mocking and sarcastic approach to hackingThe PLA gained notoriety by combining practical hacking advice with pranks and humor, reflecting the cultural obsession with technology and the internet during the early days.

      The early hacker scene, as depicted through the formation of the Phone Losers of America (PLA), was characterized by a desire for exclusivity and a sense of elitism. Members of the scene, including Brad Carter and Zach, used online bulletin boards and zines to share information, but often did so in a mocking or sarcastic way. This approach, which combined practical hacking advice with pranks and humor, helped the PLA gain notoriety and a following. The group's activities, such as hacking into bulletin boards and conducting prank calls, were a reflection of the time's cultural obsession with technology and the internet. Despite the mischievous nature of their activities, the PLA's zine and prank calls became a sensation, leading to a surge of interest and engagement from the online community. Ultimately, the PLA's success illustrates the power of humor and creativity in building a following and shaping online culture during the early days of the internet.

    • The Phone Losers of America (PLA) gained notoriety through hacking and prank calls, despite negative media coverage.PLA, led by Brad Carter, became known for hacking, prank calls, creating a hub for regional sites, and self-promotion, causing one of the earliest examples of internet trolling.

      The Phone Losers of America (PLA) hacker group, led by Brad Carter, gained notoriety in Illinois through their hacking activities and prank calls. The Bellevue News Democrat published several negative articles about the group, leading to Brad's arrest warrant. Despite this, Brad continued to create mayhem under the PLA banner by creating a website, phone losers.org, which became a hub for regional PLA sites and a platform for exchanging information and ideas among hackers. One of the most famous incidents involving the PLA occurred when they impersonated members of a Boulder News Forum, proposing wild theories about the JonBenet Ramsey murder, causing a stir among forum members and bringing the group into larger Internet life. This incident marked one of the earliest examples of internet trolling and self-promotion. Ultimately, the PLA became known for spreading free information and merchandising their prank calls and CDs/tapes.

    • An online feud between PLA and BFN led to chaos and threatsThe PLA used various tactics to disrupt the BFN's investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey murder, leading to infighting and chaos. The situation escalated into threats and curses, ultimately resulting in the shutdown of the forum.

      The PLA (Phone Losers of America) and the Boulder News Forum (BFN) engaged in a long-running online feud, with the PLA using various tactics to disrupt and derail the BFN's investigation into the JonBenet Ramsey murder. The PLA's actions led the BFN members to believe that they were working for the Ramsey family, and the situation escalated into a full-scale obsession with bringing down the PLA. The PLA, in turn, used this infighting to their advantage, flooding the forum with false information and redirecting posts to their own site. The situation became so chaotic that members began invoking curses and threats against each other, ultimately leading to the shutdown of the forum. Years later, a man claiming to be a private detective accused Brad Carter, a key member of the PLA, of being the true killer of JonBenet Ramsey. Carter saw this as a great opportunity for phone pranks, leading to one of the PLA's most infamous campaigns of torment against a perceived enemy. The PLA's actions may have started as a form of online mischief, but they ultimately showcased the power of the internet to manipulate and disrupt online communities.

    • Contrasting Approaches of PLA and PNC BankThe PLA showcased innovation and mischief, while PNC Bank focused on stability and security. Balancing risk and security is crucial in both personal and corporate contexts.

      While the PLA gained notoriety through pranks and hacking, PNC Bank prioritized stability and security, taking a "boringly brilliant" approach to banking. Meanwhile, the PLA continued to entertain and challenge the status quo, using the internet to spread humor and mischief, even engaging in illegal activities like credit card fraud and phone pranks on a larger scale. Despite the attention and mainstream recognition, they remained on the fringe of the law. Ultimately, the contrasting approaches of the PLA and PNC Bank illustrate the tension between innovation and tradition, and the importance of balancing risk and security in both personal and corporate contexts.

    • A Tale of Fraudulent Activities and ConsequencesEngaging in fraudulent activities, no matter how small, can lead to severe consequences including legal repercussions, financial penalties, and emotional distress for victims.

      The story of Brad "Carter" Carter serves as a reminder of the consequences of fraudulent activities, no matter how seemingly insignificant they may seem. Carter's journey from using canceled credit cards to social engineering and prank calls led him to commit a federal offense, resulting in a stern reprimand from the judge and a hefty fine. His actions not only caused financial harm but also emotional distress to countless individuals. The story underscores the importance of ethical behavior and the potential severe consequences of engaging in illegal activities. Carter's own words acknowledge the harm he caused and the regret he feels. The incident also highlights the evolving nature of fraud tactics and the need for continued vigilance against such activities.

    • The Prankster Life of Phone Losers of AmericaThe Phone Losers of America, led by Brad Carter, gained notoriety for their pranks, ranging from harmless fun to potentially illegal activities. Carter, now a convicted felon, continues to engage in pranks and runs the PLA website. Listeners should be cautious of unknown calls as they might be from a PLA member.

      While the Phone Losers of America (PLA) group, led by Brad Carter, gained notoriety for their pranks and mischief, their actions ranged from harmless fun to potentially illegal activities. Brad Carter, now a convicted federal felon, continues to engage in pranks and runs the PLA website, while other members have branched off into community activism, writing, and podcasting. Carter's book, "Phone Losers of America," recounts his early years as a hacker and the rise of the PLA, but the accuracy of some of the stories, such as the encounter with his friend Doug, is questionable. Despite the controversies, the PLA's influence continues, and listeners should be cautious of unknown calls as they might be from one of the group's members. The Modem Mischief podcast brings these stories to life, providing entertainment and reminding us that the line between fun and mischief and illegal activities can be blurry.

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