Time to Reinstate the Radio Prank Call

Comment from Peter Saxon

Prank Calls were a staple of breakfast radio shows until one went horribly wrong in 2012.

Who could forget that British nurse Jacintha Saldanha tragically took her own life after she fell for a bad impersonation of the Queen by 2Day-FM’s Mel Greig. She and co-host Michael Christian were patched through to a pregnant Kate Middleton’s hospital room to “report on her condition.”

Almost two years after those tragic events of Dec 2012 the British coroner Fiona Wilcox in summing up her findings  said, “This incident was not reasonably foreseeable.”

Now that a precedent has been set, such incidents are totally foreseeable.

Yet, here I am advocating for the return of the prank call to radio. But this time let’s target the pranks at those who truly deserve to be gotcha’d and humiliated. I refer to online scam artists.

If for nothing else, these pests should be prosecuted for clogging up your inbox with junk. With the sheer volume of crap to sift through, alongside genuine communications, even those who can normally spot a bogus email can be caught off-guard. I was. 

I recently received a totally convincing “electricity bill” purportedly from Origin Energy. It told me to “click here” to check an invoice for $872. My immediate thought was, “That’s a bit high.” So, like a fool, I clicked on it. All I got was a page full of computer code. So again, like a fool, I refresh the page and click on it again to see if it would work this time. No doubt It did, for the scammers, not me.

By now my brain was starting to catch up with reality and then it hit my gut with a thunderbolt. I don’t even have an account with Origin! I use another supplier. How stupid am I?

Then, to help answer my own question, I receive another bill from “Origin” This time for just $142. For a moment I think, “This is more like it, I’ll pay this one instead.”

Finally, having answered my question with the word, “very” I realise that through my ineptitude, some sort of malware had been smuggled onto my laptop. Happily I was able to have it purged with little damage done but only after several tedious hours of phone assistance and reboots.

Of course, things could have been far worse. Many Australians have lost considerable sums of money to these scam artists.

So, I call upon the most cunning of our Breakfast and Drive hosts to rekindle your pranking skills to avenge the legions of listeners who have fallen victim to the scamming scum of cyberspace.

I’m sure that many people, like me, have yearned to reply to some of the junk mail we receive except we dare not, because experts warn that any response could trigger much worse. But I would imagine that the clever technologists who inhabit radio stations would be able to set up an isolated email account for the sole purpose of taking on the scammers.

Here are a few of the things I have wished to be able to say to these shysters.

SEOs: I get a lot of these from search engine optimisation companies who promise that they’ll get my organisation on the first page of a Google search. What I’d love to say to one of these guys is, “I Googled ‘SEOs’ and guess what, your company doesn’t appear on the first page. Get back to me when you do.”

Lottery wins: I wish I could engage one these guys and say, “Wow! Not again! I’ve had so many lottery wins lately. I must be the luckiest man on earth especially since I haven’t bothered to purchase a ticket. Frankly, it’s embarrassing. I’ve got so much money, I really don’t know what to do with it, so how about you give it to charity?”

Phishing: We’ve locked you’re account. Please enter your password and personal details here. “I don’t have an ANZ/Apple/Wells Fargo Account. I was planning on getting one tomorrow. Can you wait til then?” 

Nigerian Oil: These are still sucking ‘em in after years in circulation. I received one just last week that is typical…


My dear beloved one, this is Mrs Theresa Heidi. I know this massage mighty come to you as surprise so do not be afraid Almighty God knows you better and he knows why he has directed me to you  at this point in time.I came across your data via a private search.(sic, all of the above)

To cut a long story short, Mrs Theresa Heidi is dying of the “cancer sickness,” and has a sum of $US16.5 million ($AUS 20.9 million) to give to me to spend on “charitable causes” as Isee fit after she has shuffled off this mortal coil – which will, no doubt, be right after i have delivered around $90,000 worth of iTunes gift cards to her nominees who will disappear along with her and the cash they redeem.

I would, if I had a breakfast show, feel moved to speak to Mrs Heidi, promising to let her write down my bank details and personal data if she takes my call (sending them via email is too risky. After all, In God Almighty only do we trust. All others pay cash). I’d suggest to Mrs Theresa Heidi that I have a number of offers on the table for similar schemes. One from Mr Abu Sendemup for $18.5 million and another from Barista Rohan Bowto for $21 million and that she would have to up her offer to remain competitive if she wishes to use my services as a scammee.

As anyone with an email address and a phone number would know there is an endless supply of junk that pours through our portals. And to paraphrase the proverbial, when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade… When your inbox is crammed with junk, make jokes.

So, come on radio, let’s prank the scammers and give them a taste of their own medicine.


Peter Saxon