It's never a good feeling when you're driving and those red and blue lights start flashing behind you but I know an even worse feeling: getting pulled from a college class by several FBI agents...for pulling a prank.
As insane as it sounds, that's what happened to redditor ShortTail359. He revealed the details of the insane series of events that led to him being asked to step out of his class by four FBI agents in an unbelievably tense post.
To call his story a "wild ride" would be an understatement. Buckle up and prepare to see how even the most good-natured of pranks can have you sh--ting bricks.
ShortTail thought he would be cheeky by starting off his freshman year of college by saying that he was going on a "business trip" out of state. In truth, he was really just having lunch with his parents, but his friends didn't know that. All they knew was what ShortTail told them: that the nature of his business was somewhat illegal.
Obligatory "this happened a few months ago."
This was easily the most stressful rollercoaster of an event that I hope I ever experience.
The scene is freshman year of college. I'm a wide-eyed innocent student having a great time away from his parents. I've made some good friends and enjoy messing with them. As such, I decide to pull a little prank on them. It starts with a simple idea: I'm going to Ohio on a business trip. I was actually going to lunch with my parents, but this was a more fun story. I hadn't initially thought out this entire prank, but just like high school presentations, I decided to wing it. Every so often I would go on these out-of-state "business" trips, but I stayed vague as to what my business was. I told them that it was somewhat illegal, but in more of a gray area.
As the weeks progressed, ShortTail decided to add to the narrative: he had employees to bail out of prison. Our narrator sent "accidental" text messages that showed stacks of cash that mistakenly went to the wrong person. His fellow students were very, very intrigued.
My friends were incredibly intrigued by my illicit endeavors, and as time went on, they began to ask more questions about this business. I still had little to no plan for this ordeal, but boy did I milk it. I had them convinced that there were overseas bank accounts with millions of dollars in them and that I had several people involved in this business. At one point, I told them the story of how one of my employees got caught trespassing on government property and I had to pay $10,000 to bail him out. I would "accidentally" send a picture of several thousand dollars, claiming it was meant to go to someone else with no other explanation.
This went on for several months up until about April. The semester was coming to a close, and I had to figure out a finale for my little project. My roommates were in on my prank and several iterations of plans were discussed. The final version of this
bad ideaplan was as follows: I will create an email address posing as the chief of police at my college. In the email, the officer (we'll call him Bill Myers) will inform my friends that he is currently looking to bring in ShortTail359 for questioning. I was very specific to say that no one should call 911 or contact anybody outside of this email address with the excuse that there was no official investigation so Bill was looking into the matter himself. I then went on to explain how ShortTail359 is conducting a business out of university housing and that this is all we know but the business might be illegal/dangerous. In summation: email me if you know of ShortTail359's whereabouts, don't call 911, don't contact anyone else in the police department.
This is when ShortTail decided to kick it up a notch: he wanted to prank his friends into thinking that the police were after him, so he found the name of the chief of police at his college and decided to draft a letter — which would prove to be the thing that ultimately took his prank from being good-natured to possibly illegal.
I figured I covered my bases and sent the email. It was very well worded and quite convincing to a group of people who already believed I was running a secret business. Sure enough, my friends bought it hook, line and sinker. One of them replied, informing Bill that she didn't know anything about my business, other than that I mentioned it occasionally. Three friends ignored the email altogether, and one texted me saying she didn't believe it.
The next three days were interesting. I had several classes with these people and finals were upon us so skipping class was not a good idea, but I had to make them believe I was on the run. Fortunately some of these classes had several hundred students and I was able to sit far away from our usual spots. The smaller classes I avoided altogether. Meals were eaten at odd times, and at one point I had to hide in the shower because a friend was in my dorm. I had no contact with the prank-ees outside the occasional text.
On the day that ShortTail finally decided to blow the whole thing wide open and let his classmates know what was going on, two FBI agents walked into one of his classes and asked him to step outside.
Fast forward to the Thursday I decided would be the day to reveal my shenanigans. I'm walking into class when these two men in suits stop me just inside the door. They ask me if I am ShortTail359 and upon confirming this, they tell me they need to speak with me outside. We walk downstairs to the building's lobby where I am greeted by two more men who have guns at their sides. All four of them hold up their badges in dramatic fashion and one introduces himself as "Agent Michael Scarn with the FBI" (fake name obviously). It was approximately at this point that I peed a little bit as I realized that I was in some trouble.
Agent Scarn: "Do you know why we're here?"
ShortTail359: "No, but I have a pretty good guess."
Agent Scarn: "Well why don't you tell us what your guess is?"
It was finally at this point that the prank was over and done with. ShortTail explained the long-con he played on his friends, but at this point, it was too late: it was evident that he was in a world of potential trouble. The truth didn't necessarily set ShortTail free.
I proceeded to explain the email I sent out along with a brief summary of the genesis of my prank. 50 minutes of questioning later and I had given Agent Scarn the password to the email account, signed an agreement saying I won't access the account or I'd face several charges, given a written statement of the events, crapped my pants twice, and completely missed my class. Agent Scarn gave me his business card and said they would be in touch.
I go back to my dorm and try to come to terms with the fact that I may have ruined my future career and life altogether. All my friends had a good laugh at my expense but not before I had a good laugh at their expense for believing my stupid business story. After a long sleepless weekend I get a call from a sergeant at the police station. He says that he needs to meet with me and we arrange a time. I go down to the station and for 10 minutes all he does is yell at me and tell me what a stupid idea this was. Now I'm a pretty good kid. Never got in trouble in school, honor roll, never so much as a speeding ticket, so having a police officer yell at me was a new experience. He finally calms down enough for me to explain that this is an anomaly and that it was supposed to be an innocent prank. He believes me and tells me that regardless, they're going to charge me with criminal impersonation which is a class A misdemeanor. My court date is set for a couple weeks from now and that was the end of it.
Thankfully, when ShortTail went to court, word had gotten around of his stupidity, and his gag became the talk of the courthouse. It seemed like he was going to be OK, but he still wasn't sure.
I go to court fully prepared to leave with a no longer perfect record. As the staff is processing me and taking my mugshot, a lady asks me what my name is. I tell her ShortTail359, when a guy jumps around the corner and yells "But you can just call him Chief Bill Myers!" This was a much-needed laugh and he also informed me that word of my idiocy had gotten around town. I go into the court room and waited for this lighthearted judge to call my name. Most of the charges were speeding tickets or marijuana related so the judge was moving pretty quickly. However, he calls my name and then pauses. I walk up to the podium and he's still paused, clearly reading over my file. He looks up at me, and then back down at my file again. After reading it completely through, he just starts laughing. Several minutes go by before he finally asks me if I have any sort of criminal history. I tell him I don't have so much as a speeding ticket and he asks if I would like to keep it that way. I happily say yes and he give the DA my paperwork. The DA asks for my story and tells me that he's never seen anything like this before (something I had heard several times at this point). He informs me that this is something they could have expunged as long as I pay my court fees. I thank him and go back to waiting for the judge to call me up again.
ShortTail really didn't calm down until he saw the judge smile as he read his case. I can only imagine the relief this scared college kid must've felt when the judge let him know his life was not ruined on account of dumb behavior. Heck, I'm 32 years old and a father of two, and I'd still be crapping myself if this happened.
When he does, a smile immediately dawns his face and he begins to chuckle. At this point I'm relieved enough to let out a giggle of my own since I can feel the entire court room wondering what I've done. The judge tells me that he will expunge my charge and asks me if I will ever do something like this again. I assure him that I will not and he says, with a smile on his face, "You know son, everyone in this court room is wondering who you impersonated, but I'm going to do something that you should have done and keep my mouth shut." I thank him and sheepishly walk out of the room.
Later that day I took the required documents back to the court and had the whole charge expunged in a matter of hours. It was easily the most stressful month of my life and was not worth it at all, but I am now able to walk around with an FBI agent's card in my wallet and keep a fond memory of being laughed at by a judge.
Here’s a link to Agent Scarn’s business card. It’s a little faded since it sits in my wallet.
The "proof" of the business card wasn't enough to convince some redditors that this whole story is true, while others thought that none of his friends really believed he ran an illicit business.
Another redditor, whose father worked for the FBI, says that there are a lot of things in ShortTail's story that don't add up.
There’s... A bit wrong with this story. Here’s a link to my dad’s card which is standard with a multitude of different agents from different offices of whom I met. Now, my dad retired a few years back and they could’ve changed the cards or this could be from an office that doesn’t follow the same format, all totally possible, but I’ve seen a few dozen FBI business cards and they all look the same. Nonetheless, minor detail.
Second, there’s no such position (according to my dad) as “Task Force Agent.” Again, this may have changed or be from another very different office, but when he was in the force, the title most closely aligned with that monicker would have been “Field Agent.”
Third, FBI agents can’t charge, the evidence would be relayed to the DA, which I believe OP has correctly, but it’s very doubtful that a SDA would pursue this. This seems pretty heavily below their payroll. I remember a story when my dad worked white-collar in New York about this guy who was impersonating federal employees and had embezzled something like $250,000, and his office tossed the case to the locals because they believed it wasn’t worth their time or energy.
Fourth, the department that would be responsible for this would probably be cyber crimes according to my dad, and they have a very, very long wait time on cases like this. Criminal impersonation via the internet would require more evidence than a single email. Cyber crimes are fickle, and they tend to load on evidence.
Again, this is all according to my dad who has been retired for a few years and primarily worked in the Northeast. This could be totally right, but after talking to him, I call karma bamboozle.
Regardless of this whole thing is true or not, if you're going to go with college pranks, it's better to stick to the classics. Put some saran-wrap over a toilet bowl in the middle of the night, or change the background of your friend's computer to a photo of them in their underwear before they go up for a PowerPoint presentation. Maybe don't pretend you're running an illegal business operation and then tell a bunch of internet strangers about it for imaginary upvote points.