Touch-tone terrorism

When I was a kid, long before the age of Caller ID, I and my friends would sometimes crank-call strangers chosen systematically or at random from the phone book and see how long we could keep people from hanging up. This became especially fun when I was about 12 and received as a Christmas present a combined phone/clock radio/cassette player that was capable of recording calls right off the line. This was wildly out of compliance with the FCC, but at that age this was the least of my concerns.
A man named Pete Dzoghi has taken this time-honored concept to a new level. He has secured over two dozen 1-800 numbers that differ by a digit from the customer-service numbers of large companies, including United Parcel Service. The idea, obviously, is to snare fumble-fingered folk who then unwittingly enter into conversations with any one of a number of characters comprising a group Dzoghi has dubbed “The Touch-Tone Terrorists.” Dzoghi records the calls, and after later securing victims’ blessings releases the conversations on DVDs and onto the Internet.
In 2002, Comedy Central started producing a show called Crank Yankers in which a group of comics (among them Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, and Denis Leary) would crank-call people and the producers of the show would then synchronize the audio with video of ad hoc puppets acting out the goings-on in the call. Inevitably, the Touch-Tone Terrorists and Crank Yankers began partnering occasionally, and a particularly amusing result can be seen below starting 1:30 into the video.
I was reminded of this by a recent unruly package-delivery situation of my own. If you like what you see below, there’s another “YPS” call 16:00 into this video (you’ll have to sit through a 30-second commercial about vodka or something first).

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Touch-tone terrorism

When I was a kid, long before the age of Caller ID, I and my friends would sometimes crank-call strangers chosen systematically or at random from the phone book and see how long we could keep people from hanging up. This became especially fun when I was about 12 and received as a Christmas present a combined phone/clock radio/cassette player that was capable of recording calls right off the line. This was wildly out of compliance with the FCC, but at that age this was the least of my concerns.
A man named Pete Dzoghi has taken this time-honored concept to a new level. He has secured over two dozen 1-800 numbers that differ by a digit from the customer-service numbers of large companies, including United Parcel Service. The idea, obviously, is to snare fumble-fingered folk who then unwittingly enter into conversations with any one of a number of characters comprising a group Dzoghi has dubbed “The Touch-Tone Terrorists.” Dzoghi records the calls, and after later securing victims’ blessings releases the conversations on DVDs and onto the Internet.
In 2002, Comedy Central started producing a show called Crank Yankers in which a group of comics (among them Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman, and Denis Leary) would crank-call people and the producers of the show would then synchronize the audio with video of ad hoc puppets acting out the goings-on in the call. Inevitably, the Touch-Tone Terrorists and Crank Yankers began partnering occasionally, and a particularly amusing result can be seen below starting 1:30 into the video.
I was reminded of this by a recent unruly package-delivery situation of my own. If you like what you see below, there’s another “YPS” call 16:00 into this video (you’ll have to sit through a 30-second commercial about vodka or something first).

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