About a week ago, I stumbled across a video on YouTube. In that video, they were calling up various shops to talk with people who had checked in on FourSquare. The idea is that it’s dumb to list where you currently are, when away from home, on social networking services, and also to show how easy it is to use that information, then look up the number of that business, and get that person on the phone for a prank call.
Out of curiosity, I looked up information about the group, as it appeared to be. My search led me to their website, and then I found their Wikipedia page. They are the Phone Losers of America, or PLA for short, an American phreaking group founded in the early 1990s. “Phreaking” refers to phone hacking, either hacking into pay phones to use for free, or finding your way into business phone lines and making prank calls. The group is primarily about making prank calls to various businesses, and occasionally individuals.
The group has an online radio station, which was broadcasting live content until this past summer. The stream is still up and running, but now plays archived content 24/7.
Anyway, PLA was all about making prank calls. These ranged from silly jokes to calling businesses (such as pizza places or Seven-Elevens) and pretending to be the corporate office in an effort to get employees to do all sorts of random stuff (hey, it’s the corporate office, so it must be for real). The complete archives of the various shows and podcasts from their online radio station (Cacti Radio) are available on the site.
It’s an interesting site. Listening to it, I’m reminded of various attempts on the /b/ section of 4chan to prank call businesses.
Of course, there’s the obvious argument against PLA: they are disrupting people’s work, keeping them from accomplishing what they need to do, and generally causing trouble. At the same time, PLA has a line they don’t cross, that being that their pranks do not cause actual damage to businesses, their calls are just for fun and to annoy people.
So. PLA is a thing.