PLA Issue #35

Written by RedBoxChiliPepper on September 10, 1995

  • Introduction – RBCP
  • Review of DefCon III – by Apok0lyps
  • Review of DefCon III – by Roy
  • Follow-up on the 618 Scene – RBCP
  • The Birth of “Cactus” – RBCP
  • Dealing With False Classified Ads – RBCP
  • This Issue’s Featured Support Sites
  • Police Log

    Introduction by RedBoxChiliPepper

    Well, here it is, issue thirty-five, the final issue of PLA. It’s been fun
    but unless someone else decides to take over, which is doubtful, this will be
    the last issue ever. Thanks goes out to everybody. Oh, wait, I’m just kidding,
    PLA’s not really shutting down. I bet I got your attention, didn’t I?


    There’s a great company out there that’s giving people FREE 3 1/2″ computer
    disks with absolutely no cost or obligation and no salesman will call! And
    what’s even better is that the company provides a toll free number to call in
    and get your free disks with. The only catch is that you can only get one disk
    at a time. You may have heard of the company, it’s called Amerika On-Line!
    (stop ralphing!) You can order a few disks a day by calling 1-800-827-6364 and
    expressing an extreme interest in becomming an AOHell subscriber. Stop paying
    for those computer disks, they can be free, dammit!

    I finally got around to reading Masters of Deception by Michelle Slatalla
    and Joshua Quittner. Good book, funny, informative, who cares if the story was
    really accurate, it was good reading. There’s just two parts in it that I can’t
    help bringing up. One quote was, “One kid might know how to make a wicked blue
    box, a device cobbled together from top-secret Radio Shack parts that
    simulated the tones of coins dropping into a pay phone…” and the other part
    tells about one of the guys playing with a phone in a book store and finally
    gets to make a free phone call by using his tone dialer to dial the number he
    wants. Easy to do, but the author describes, “The device he uses is a tone
    dialer, which emits a noise that simulates the sound a pay phone would
    recognize as coins dropping into a slot.” Guess they should have done a little
    more research before they released the book. Other than that, good reading.
    Go out and shoplift your copy from Waldenbooks today!

    Me & Colleen Card are in the process of relocating from the stinky town of
    Corpus Christi, Texas to someplace less smelly. We still haven’t decided
    exactly where but hopefully it’ll be someplace where more people speak English.
    If you’re one of the few who use our post office box, you can still write to
    that address and mail will be diverted for us to pick up. By the next issue we
    should be moved. (As of this writing we’re vacationing in Illinois, ya-hoo.)
    Oh, this also means that my bbs, Whombat Communications went down but I backed
    everything up on disk so I’ll most likely put it back up in a few months so
    don’t throw away your passwords yet!

    This issue features reviews of Defcon, the meaning of “cactus” and a follow-
    up on the 618 scene from the last issue. A reporter was actually desperate
    enough for material to run a story on the PLA. He’s probably out of a job by
    now, poor sob. So sit back and enjoy the issue. Better yet, just delete it,
    it’s not worth reading. Who am I trying to fool?

    Review of DefCon ]I[ – Apok0lyps

    Friday Aug. 04 aprox. 12:00: We arrive at the Tropicana Hotel. Check in took
    FOREVER as we had to stand in a really long line and get checked in. They made
    us pay a $50.00 damage deposit on the room. We complained, but oh well.

    13:00: We get the room, put our shit away, and head on down to the con room.
    Not too many people had shown up yet, only about 250 reg’ed at that point.
    Paid the $40.00 and got da 0day ID badge. werd.

    13:40: I head to the Tropics Bar (one closest to the con room) and begin to
    order beer. Sat and drank like two and met Alex Deluge. He was pretty cool.
    About seven beers later, El_Jefe (Zak) shows up with Xn4rk. He was also pretty
    cool. We started to mess around with the video poker machines. Xn4rk has this
    idea that chaos theory has something to do with the winnings. We proceed to
    drink and conduct “experiments” to the tune of about $12.00 & no one won shit.
    Started to get loaded.

    15:00: I depart the bar and head back to the con room. Looked around for a
    while and got the latest 2600 mag. Pretty good, pick it up. Milled around and
    met Novocain.

    16:00: Got some food, got some sleep.

    By now the time thing is kinda blurry, so here’s the rest in a nutshell (or
    nut case) Hacker Jeopardy started at Midnight and was loads of fun. I would
    dare to say the best event of the whole con. Questions ranged from stupid to
    elite, but the beer flowed and free stuff abounded. Round one was a riot as we
    watched little kids fight for t-shirts and beers. This event hosted by Winn
    Schwartau, lasted till like 3am. The con closed for the night and me and some
    people went to hack KU.

    Here are MY awards picks for best things at DefCon ]I[:

    Best Speaker: Robert Steele (ex-CIA) Topic: Hackers are the country’s biggest
    asset. Kept me very intrested. I’m gonna try to get a copy of his notes from

    Most Entertaining Speaker: Deth Vegetable (cDc) Topic: The Media Sucks Made me
    laugh, Also took questions about Mr. T!!

    Most Informative Speaker: Koresh Topic: Hacking a Job. I went away with a lot
    of good info on that one.

    Lamest Speaker: Stephen Cobb Topic: Why Hacking Sucks.

    Best Event of DefCon ]I[: Hacker Jeopardy. Free Beer, free stuff, and El_jefe
    managed to win a lot of shit.

    Worst Event of DefCon ]I[: Susan Thunder’s Mitnick Party. I didn’t go, but I
    think only three people did.

    Best Quote: (not sure who said this) “If you were a woman and had a plastic
    penis, I would touch your nose.”

    Most Commonly used words by Dark Tangent: “Awwwwwwww Yeah!”

    Most Commonly used words by everyone else: “Throw it!!”

    Friendliest People: Alex Deluge, Xn4rk, Magsusa (hope I spelled that right)
    Dead Addict and Novocain.

    Best Hotel Employee: Thomas. (Offical PLA bartender)

    Most Creative Outfit: Whoever was dressed like Chun Li.

    Other Quotes:

    “Here, have one of those beer things.” – El_jefe

    “Alex Deluge: I LOVE those beer things!!” -Alex Deluge

    “Whoever’s got floor space, I’ll give them k0dez!” -Capt. Hook

    “Ok, ticket number 317 wins Dark Tangent.” -Death Vegetable

    “Throw him!!!” -Crowd

    Greets go out to: DHATE (see ya at H0H0), Alex Deluge, Drew from SGI for
    getting us the Holy Cow (moo), Thomas, RBCP and Colleen Card (see ya at H0H0
    as well) and that’s it for me!

    Review of DefCon III – by Roy

    Hi, my name’s Roy, and last week I went to that DefCon3 thing that was in
    Las Vegas. I heard about all the wicked things and the sinners there so I
    made sure to bring my bible. I packed everything in my Ford Motherfucker
    sometime around January so I would be there on time. I got to the Tropicana
    Hotel around 1pm on Friday afternoon, and got my room so me and my gerbils
    could get a little privacy over the weekend.

    When I went to the convention room I about fell over when I saw the carpet,
    it was this beautiful tropical floral pattern with lots of pretty colors! I
    LIKE pink and greeny things. Someone was going around trying to give me a copy
    of a Hustler disguised as a 2600 magazine, so I had to mace him just like they
    taught me down at the YMCA.

    That silly man, Dark Tangent made my gerbil pay to get in even though he
    would just sit in my pocket until I found a cardboard tube. I read that cute
    little program thing and it said something about hackers playing Wheel of
    Fortune. Since Pat Sajak is my favorite person in the world I went, but I
    wondered why he would play Wheel of Fortune at midnight. He must be crazy
    nuts! I think they should have called the police about this game. Some crazy
    young man was throwing things at the audience and trying to hurt us for some
    reason! He was throwing beers to people without making them throw ID back up
    so he could see if they were 32.

    I drank half of one of those beer things and I went wild! I don’t know what
    happened then but I remeber passing out on that beautiful hotel carpet, and
    waking up in my room with a broken gerbil next to me. I guess I’d have to visit
    the pet store later. I tried to get the bartender to quit selling beer and even
    showed him the bible, but he just threw ice cubes at me. I know someone
    who’s going to hell.

    I bought some beef jerky and went to the convention room. I noticed some guy
    talking into a microphone but got totally distracted by the beautiful curtains
    outside! Between the curtains and the wallpaper, I had to go back to my room
    and change my pants. I felt so awful about doing that, that I had to order some
    butter and chives from room service and rub them all over myself and everything
    else in the room before things got better.

    Me and my gerbil went into the convention room the next day and someone was
    talking about something but I didn’t care, I had to go to the toilet so bad,
    it just wasn’t funny anymore. I found the nearest bathroom and barred the door
    shut for aboout three hours, and the whole time I was in there I danced all
    over the toilets. When I came out, a guard was waiting for me and he beat me
    sensless with his billy club, and that was kind of fun too! Finally, he just
    gave me a shoe in the ass and sent me back to the convention room where I hid
    in the curtains for the rest of the evening.

    The toilets at the hotel were so pretty! I wish I could have taken one of
    them home with me and mounted it on my 1986 Ford Motherfucker. About that time
    I realized I had to go back home to New Mexico and feed my gerbils and check
    to make sure that those kids didn’t take my bubble mower or change the greeting
    on my answering machine like last weekend. I went home and the neighbors told
    me I was crazy nuts with piss in my pants for going to such a sinful town as
    Las Vegas, but I brought all my shoes and glasses so it was ok.

    Follow-up on the 618 scene

    If anyone actually bothered to read all of PLA034 you probably remember us
    leaving the 618 area code in total disarray and confusion. Well, a few more
    developments have happened since that issue and here they are. First, we bring
    you Scott The Believer’s post shortly after PLA034 came out. This was posted
    in the Sysop Announcements Sub (Wed Aug 09, 1995):

    Well, It is true. We are shutting Chatterbox dowm Permanently, we are pulling
    the plug on the Computer at Midnight this Saturday night (8-12-95). I really
    hate to do this, Mostly it has been fun and a joy to run this BBS. Chatty has
    done an excellent job for a newbi sysop to keep things running well, and the
    board interesting and entertaining. AND most of the users here have been really
    good, posted a lot, played games, had a good time in general. Why then must we
    shut it down then? I hear all you good users out there asking yourself that
    question. Well, along with the good users, there have also been a few “Not so
    good users” out there. They are the ones to spoil it for the rest of you. We
    have had so many problems in the past few weeks, it is not even funny! We have
    had users that thought it would be great fun to “STEAL” the users list from
    here with everyones passwords, phone numbers, address’s, ETC and then upload it
    to other boards. We have had users that would call us voice here at all hours
    of the night with harrassing calls. We have had a user upset over giving out
    his phone number to another user (Eventho everybody has our users list by now).
    We had users ASK to be deleted, then keep trying to log back in as new. We have
    deleted users who refused to conform to our NO CUSSING rule here, then they got
    mad at us too. It has just turned into way TOO much hasstle lately. It used to
    be fun to run this board, but lately it has turned into a BIG headach taking
    up too much of my time trying to keep users happy, that we have decided to just
    turn it off, PERMANENTLY! It becomes effective this Saturday night (8-12-95) at
    Midnight. Chatterbox will no longer be around.

    For you good users, we are really sorry it has come to this. We appreciate all
    that you have done to help make this a fun BBS. I am sorry the situation has
    come to this. And I want to thank all of you good users for your participation
    in all that this board has to offer. If you could, please post on other boards
    that Chatterbox has permanently gone down, to rise no more, ok? Just to inform
    any users that don’t log on and read this by Saturday what happened. Thanks.

    Scott The Believer

    PS- any replys (Posts or E-mail) is welcome, and Chatty will probably follow
    this with her own post about the situation.

    [And before that post, Apok0lyps had gotten the following private mail…]

    Name: Scott The Believer #2
    Date: Wed Aug 09 06:19:24 1995

    I am unpopular in the area? Never had any problem before, and I have BBSing for
    about 6 years now. I always got along pretty good with most everyone, never had
    a fight with anyone, except 1 sysop who I asked to be deleted from their system
    and they balked about removing my name from their system. I have had
    discussions about abortion with a few, but NO real fights. So I sure didn’t
    know that I was unpopular around here. The only people I have had unpopular
    dealings with are the users of this board, namely Martini, Zak, Zensless1, and
    a few others I have deleted from here. The way I see it the whole problem
    started here with this board, and it is gonna end here and now with this board.
    I thought Amanda was doing a good job making a decent entertaining BBS, when I
    Dark Requim, I thought we really had a better board than they did. We sure got
    a lot of calls, 30-35 a day average. I really thought Amanda was doing an
    excelent job as a newbi sysop. BUT The buck stops here! I too am depressed
    about this whole incident, it IS boring. But I can stop it at any time. AND
    Amanda’s Mother and I have made the decision, we will NOT put up with all these
    hasstles anymore. So we are shutting Chatterbox down, Permanently! Midnight
    this Saturday night is the day and time we pull the plug on Chatterbox. I am
    sorry to have to do this to Amanda, she really enjoyed runnning a board, but I
    have had enough midnight-3am calls, new users trying to call in saying OBSENE
    things in the LOG about Amanda as passwords. I am just sick of this whole month
    LONG incident that just won’t stop. RBCP putting my Apology in one of his PLA
    text’s is the capper, I am sick of him, his childish pranks, and putting my
    Apology in there was WHAT finally made me decide to do it. So as of Midnight
    this Saturday night, Chatterbox is History, Permanently. Don’t bother calling
    anymore, it will not be amswering anymore after Saturday….End of discussion.

    [Needless to say, everyone at Cocktail Lounge and Roy’s Place thought this
    to be really hilarious and everyone counted down the minutes until they
    went down. Apok0lyps actually managed to get himself deleted about a half
    hour before the bbs went down but I forget why. Lighten up, Scotty! :) Mr.
    Hack is still running his amazing phreeeekers’ bbs. Here’s a chat session
    submitted to me by Scorpion (with Mr. Hack, using a false account):

    HACK: i am the god dam exile!
    SCOR: oh ok why do you let people bash you?
    HACK: because they r just lamerz who got kiked out of their sisters ass!!
    SCOR: What I was wondering is why do you have so many enimies?
    SCOR: Whats that pol group?
    HACK: PAL? [PLA, of course]
    SCOR: something like that I always see them bashing you?
    SCOR: Oh so there not really a cool group?
    SCOR: oh what group were you starting?
    SCOR: Are you a really good hacker?
    SCOR: ok btw is it true the Deter gives it to you up the ass?

    [After that, Mr. Hack hung up on him. (Can’t imagine why) But PLA is
    taking donations so that we can help our friend, Mr. Hack buy a new
    keyboard. His CAPS lock seems to be stuck or something.

    And Greg Carson? He’s not had a good month and he no longer posts on
    bbses at all, just calls them up and does new message scans to see if
    we’re still talking about him. Here’s a couple of posts by Zak that I
    found slightly hilarious:]

    Name: Zak #21 @6851
    Date: Wed Aug 09 00:51:39 1995 [To me…]

    You’re lame or something. Hey I got an idea, fly up here and live here again,
    and get plastic surgery to look like Greg Carson and we’ll kidnap him and you
    can go to work as him and say “I am Greg Carson and I think you are a poo poo
    head” Then we’ll ruin his life. You can rob banks as him and call people and
    hang up. Then we can beat up his skanky hillbilly wife.

    Name: Zak #4
    Date: Thu Aug 10 05:47:52 1995

    I went into the hotel to sleep as it was very very late (about 2pm!) and greg
    pulled out a baloney sandwich and beat the shit out of me with it. I’m so
    scared of lunchmeat now.

    [And here’s a piece of private mail I got from Hitman. I forget what we
    were talking about.]

    Name: The Hit Man #370 @6851
    Date: Mon Aug 28 22:10:34 1995

    Use your mind and what would you say in my situation? I know nothing about you
    nor does anyone else (your real name even!) You move around alot it seems and
    I know when I ask questions that I will get no true answer, like your going
    to screw up and give me that information, but what should I say? WEll RBCP I
    guess I will talk to you later. well I guess I should say you suck or something
    but I dont want to start anything else between us. WEll bye-Dont worry I know
    you dont like me but at least we can talk like adults, right?

    Go ahead capture it and show the world what a dumbass I am.

    [I wasn’t going to publish that e-mail but since he asked me to, I
    thought I’d give him a break since he’s such a nice guy. But wait,
    that’s not it…Greg, sick of a life of hell (not that I had anything
    to do with THAT) decided that since the police wouldn’t help him,
    maybe the newspaper would so he called a reporter from the Belleville
    News Democrat in Belleville, Illinois and I started getting calls to
    my bbs in Texas from a guy named Grey Mouser. Here’s some captures…]

    Date: 3:32 pm Wed Aug 16, 1995
    From: Grey Mouser
    To : Redboxchilipepper

    Hi this is grey mouset im a membe
    Hi my name is grey mouser im a user at roys place. I want membership now :)

    Date: 6:21 pm Wed Aug 16, 1995
    From: Grey Mouser
    To : Redboxchilipepper

    Hey, Im a reporter and I want to talk to you about Cactus. my number is
    618-234-8420 Call me tonight the story is running saturday and has to be filed
    tommorrow afternoon. My real name as im sure you know Is Brian. I want to talk
    to you about the cactus of Hitman, I want to get your side of things to make
    it a fair story.

    [Considering his spelling & grammar, of course I was skeptical…]

    Date: 6:35 pm Wed Aug 16, 1995
    From: Redboxchilipepper
    To : Grey Mouser

    Get lost, Greg. If you want to hear my side of it, read PLA34.ZIP.

    Date: 6:42 pm Wed Aug 16, 1995
    From: Grey Mouser
    To : Redboxchilipepper

    You know for being a supposed Phreaker your not very bright, Im a reporternot
    greg, I have talked with greg and I am wwriting a story about him that will be
    running in Sunday’s paper, my work number is 1-618-234-1000 extension 626,
    give it a try it starts with the newspapers name. Im here right now if you
    want to talk.

    [At this point during his mail, I broke in for chat…]

    ME: What paper.
    GM: The news Democrat in Belleville Illinois
    ME: I’m not interested. Read pla034, okay?
    GM: Well Ive read 0-32 but Im more interested in a interview, Im sure the
    other reporters were as well hooked as I am, I belong to elite/pirate and
    phreak boards all over the country.
    ME: Why are you calling my 618 node then?
    GM: Im not Im calling your 512-883-7543 number from 618
    ME: Nope, the local 618 node is busy, I’m afraid and you’re wasting my time.
    Whatever you have to offer doesn’t interest me.
    GM: What do you mean the local node, do you mean a call to or from a 618
    ME: You figure it out, you’re wasting my time. If you want to download pla034
    I’ll let you stay on here, otherwise, goodbye.

    [Then I dropped out of chat. His letter was resumed so he continued…]

    Ok but dont blame me if the article seems slanted I have talked with three
    poeple who have been catused by the pla, I have tlkaed with the FBI, the
    corpus christi police and the local phone comapny. Im also talking to internet
    hackers at #hack and #virus. Ill just say you refused comment. But dont think
    this is greg, bk iit isnt.

    [Cactused?? I guess he’s trying to relate with us. After toddling
    around my bbs like a first grader, looking at files, reading
    messages and making the same stupid mistakes over and over he
    logged off. Anyway, I called up Roy’s Place and checked out his
    account there and his validation feedback and here it is…]

    To: Zak #1 @1
    Name: Grey Mouser #59 @1
    Date: Wed Aug 16 12:24:22 1995
    RE: Validation Feedback (141 slots left)

    Hey, I want elite/pirate access damnit :)
    Anyway im new to the area and Im joioning all of the boardz aroud. I have
    elite access i boards all over the country, more specifically oregon, maryland
    and Illinois and of course the net on #hack and #virus.

    [Well, it finally turns out that he is, in fact, a real reporter and has
    been going crazy nuts calling up everyone in the 618 scene asking what
    they knew. He also got ahold of a copy of PLA007.TXT and called every-
    one on the loser list and tried to interview them all. Colleen Card, Zak
    and Martini finally ended up on a four-way call with him and had a long
    conversation with him. Below is a copy of the article that appeared on
    the front page of the Belleville News-Democrat on Sunday, September 3rd,
    1995. Next to the article was a color copy of PLAGIF04.GIF (the altered
    phone logos and Calvin in an LOD shirt). I put my comments on the story
    throughout the article in brackets…]

    Metro-east Families Face Harassment By Hackers – by Brian D. Crecente

    Seven metro-east families have been harassed by obscene and threatening phone
    calls, pranks and false telephone charges after running afoul of a computer
    hackers group. The victims are listed in a computer file distributed by a
    group called the Phone Losers of America. The victims believe they’re on the
    list because at one time they may have angered one of two members of the group
    who have ties to the metro-east.

    One of them is a leader of the group who used to live in Madison County and
    now lives in Texas and goes by the nickname “RedBoxChiliPepper.” He appears to
    be the writer of the phone list and other computer files that deal with
    harassment or “cactusing,” as hackers call it. Computer users can access the
    list simply by calling up a local information service called a bulletin board.

    [By the time the article came out, I’d moved out of Texas and was actually
    visiting the 618 area when the article came out. I seriously doubt that
    anyone you meet in #hack would say, “Y0, d00d, 3Y3 ju$+ c4ctus3d this
    4ssh0|3 |n my c|4ss!” The whole cactusing thing was just a stupid joke
    that we’re doing our best to run into the ground. And when in the hell
    did PLA become a hackers group??? I’ll do a semi-detailed explanation
    of cactus in the next section of this issue.]

    RedBoxChiliPepper gives the following instructions: “Please keep in mind
    that this isn’t a list of places to cactus…just list of numbers for you to
    call when you’re bored or have some time to blow. Harassment is optional,” he
    wrote. “Included are pay phones, businesses, people who need to have the hell
    bugged out of them, weirdos, phreaks, dweebies, sluts, security personel, etc.
    If you have any other numbers to add to this list, please contact me and I
    might just add the number to the list. Have fun!”

    Greg and Carolyn Carson of Fairview Heights are among seven local familes on
    the list. “We have been having big problems,” Carson said. “Two weeks ago, I
    came home from work and had 20 calls on my answering machine.” Greg Carson, an
    active computer user, said he engaged in a war of words with the group on one
    of the local computer bulletin boards. “They ordered five pizzas to my work in
    Fairview Heights,” he said. “They called all of the local papers and placed
    ads in my name with my home number, saying I have houses for rent, computers
    for sale or that I’m giving away my Rottweiler.”

    [The list of course, was PLA007.TXT. War of words, my ass. He insulted
    every user on a bbs and dared us to do something horrible to him.]

    After a month of this, Carson paid Ameritech $50 for an unpublished number.
    That solution lasted a week. “The ad came out today,” Carolyn Carson said
    recently. “It was a computer ad with our unpublished number listed.” The
    Carsons are frustrated. “The police can’t do anything. Ameritech can’t help.
    So what are you supposed to do, not have a phone?” she said.

    A spokesman for the FBI in Fairview Heights said the bureau will investigate
    only if the calls become overt threats. He would not confirm whether the FBI
    is investigating the Phone Losers. RedBoxChiliPepper responded to attempts by
    the Belleville News Democrat to reach him through a computer bulletin board by
    stating, “No comment.”

    [A week? Funny, I remember calling Ameritech Assignment and getting the
    new phone number the next morning. “No Comment” was sort of an under-
    statement. It went more like this… I called Brian (the reporter) at
    his home and said, “Hi, this is RBCP.” and he said, “Oh, hi, how ya
    doing?” and I screamed as loud as I could, “NO COMMENT!” and slammed
    down the phone. Hey, we thought it was hysterical, okay?

    Almeda Lahr-Well of Glen Carbon said she was harassed in 1994 after she
    expelled the other local group member from a private school she owns and
    operates. She said she was having problems with the student, who lives in
    Granite City and goes by the nickname Zak. Lahr-Well and her family received a
    series of harassing phone calls – mostly hang-up calls. One of the last calls
    was a bomb threat about the school. The calls stopped for a few months but
    have resumed within the past three weeks, she said.

    [Zak was expelled from there for being a major pain in the ass. He was
    actually responsible for causing a rule that stated no one was allowed
    to say the word “cactus” during class time. He never really did explain
    to me exactly how that happened. The bomb threat wasn’t by us, but by
    another student there named Jason Crews who was trying to frame us.

    Daniel Tomkinson of Granite City said the harassment he has experienced began
    after he allowed a teenage girl who was a friend of his son Chris to stay at
    their house for a month after she had been kicked out by her former boyfriend.
    The boyfriend, it turned out, was RedBoxChiliPepper. “Almost immediately after
    she started living here, someone listed our house for sale, for rent, ordered
    pizzas to our house,” Tomkinson said.

    “We started getting calls at all times of the night threatening my 9-year-
    old daughter, saying he was going to kidnap and rape her.” A long-distance
    calling card in Chris Tomkinson’s name was then distributed around the country,
    netting thousands of dollars in false charges. Someone began renting video
    tapes in Daniel Tomkinson’s name without returning them. Someone also called
    in a false drug tip to police about Chris’ friends. “This really ruined Chris’
    social life,” Tomkinson said. “All I did was display a little kindness to a
    young lady from Texas.”

    [First of all, Daniel Tomkinson has never lived in Granite City, he lives
    in Rosewood Heights and always has. (You were only off by about 25 miles,
    Brian!) The girlfriend in question wasn’t kicked out, but left me because
    she was sick of my shenanagens, I guess. And the problems with Chris were
    never related to this girl, he just assumed they were. Threatening a nine
    year-old kid doesn’t really sound like something I do a lot of. These
    people have to remember, they’re on the Loser List which is distributed
    nationally. Anyone could have called them.

    Although renting video tapes under Chris Tomkinson’s name sounds really
    appealing, it never happened. What actually happened was that I was
    sitting in a bus station in Indiana talking on a pay phone talking to
    Zak. (As usual) He decides to call Chris up at home to annoy him. Chris
    answers and Zak goes into a long conversation with him basically saying,
    “I’m Dave from Very Video here in Wood River and we’re just wondering
    when in the hell you’re going to return your videos…what, you don’t
    have a video card here? Well that’s funny, I show on my computer here
    that you checked out three copies of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and an
    old Stooges movie…Yes, we have your signature right here and you’ve
    had these tapes since last week…Well, we have closed circuit cameras
    in here and our security tapes go back one month. Would you like to
    come in and we can see for ourselves that you’re telling the truth?”
    Chris is more than happy to come in because he says he knows exactly
    who’s responsible for doing this and he can easily identify RBCP on
    the security tapes and he says he’ll be there in 15 minutes.

    The funny thing is, Zak was just trying to be stupid and didn’t even
    sound convincing, yet Chris still believed him. So after that call we
    phoned the video store and I said, “Yeah, my name’s Chris Tomkinson
    and I rented a tape there and it was totally fucked and I’m PISSED
    OFF! I’m going to come in there and kick your fucking ass right now!
    I’ll be there in 15 minutes mother fucker! When you hear me tell you
    that I’m Chris Tomkinson, you’d better run because I’m going to start
    throwing the punches at you! You got that!?!?” We never did get to see
    the end results on that one…]

    Richard Ahler of Granite City was the leader of a Boy Scout troop that
    included the student kicked out of Lahr-Well’s school. Some problems led to a
    confrontation between Ahler and Zak, and the student was kicked out of the Boy
    Scout troop as well. Ahler and his family began receiving harassing phone
    calls. “For a while, the calls were obscene. Now they are just a nuisance,”
    said Ahler’s wife, Linda. “We had lots of pizzas sent to our house. We received
    telephone books from Texas that we didn’t order, and in the beginning, they
    tried to get us to pay for phone service we didn’t order.” The harassment died
    down but resumed about two weeks ago when someone in Sweeden tried 19 times
    to make collect calls to the family.

    [Zak got kicked out of the Boy Scouts?? News to us. The only person we
    know from Sweeden would be Demon Phreaker from OC, so we assume he’s
    responsible for the nineteen collect calls, although I wasn’t able to
    get in touch with him to find out for sure. He was a member on my bbs
    and probably got their number from the Loser List… Good job, DP!]

    Sometimes obscene messages are sent through a special phone service provided
    for hearing-impaired people called a TDD Relay Service. In that systen, a
    hearing-impared caller -or in this case a hacker- types a message on a TDD
    machine that a phone operator must read to the recipient of the call.”On one
    obscene call we received from a relay service, the operator was sobbing and
    crying while she tried to read the message,” Ahler said. Another victim,
    Elizabeth Colwell of Granite City, lives near the expelled student. She said
    the youth called to harass her once and she asked him why she was chosen. “He
    said he doesn’t have a life,” she said. The harassment ended with a bomb
    threat, this time to a Hardee’s restaurant where Colwell’s son used to work.

    [Neither me or Zak could remember making a TDD operator cry so if someone
    out there reading this is responsible for this one, drop me a note. I’d
    really like to know what it takes to make an operator sob! I don’t know
    why everyone thinks we’re terrorists who make bomb threats everywhere.
    I’m a civil enough person to not cause the fire department to run around
    town looking for non-existant bombs. I did hear that Colwell’s son, Danny,
    was fired from Hardees because some heartless hooligans were calling him
    constantly at work and being mean to his manager. Who could that be…]

    The other local harassment victims declined to discuss the matter openly for
    fear of retaliation. All the victims made one common claim – that police and
    telephone companies have been unable to stop the harassment. Ameritech spokes-
    man Mike Brand said the telephone company has specialists who handle phone
    harassment complaints. Customers should avoid giving their phone number to
    strangers, he added. “You want to zealously guard your number,” he said. “The
    telephone is a tremendous convenience, but people choose to use it as an
    instrument of torture at times.”

    Who are the Phone Losers of America? The group considers itself an electronic
    magazine dedicated to freedom of information. Local victims of telephone
    harassment believe it has more to do with revenge and kicks. The group has
    issued 36 computer text files that deal with harassment or “phreaking,” which
    generally means raiding phone company computers to steal services and
    manipulate records. The files include tiles such as “Getting Revenge the
    Phreakers Way,” “Information Gathering on Anyone,” and “A List of Number to
    Call When You’re Really Bored.”

    [Guard your number, Mike? It’s not the customers who are at fault there,
    the Ameritech employees are the idiots who will give you unlisted and
    confidential information just because you claim to work for them. Better
    advice would probably be “don’t go on a private bbs system and dare
    people to harass you.” PLA has issued 36 computer text files? Funny,
    when this article came out we were only up to 34. I guess he’s counting
    the index and Summer ’95 Fone Directory.]

    The latter file features the group’s list of people to harass, which includes
    36 residential phone numbers, 95 business numbers and other assorted numbers
    for pay phones and computer bulletin boards nationwide.

    Another file explains how to build a “red box,” which allows users to make
    free calls from pay phones. Another explains how to break into computer
    systems, and another gives details on how to steal services from telephone
    company service boxes located outside of homes and businesses. The text files
    are distributed to 23 computer bulletin boards in the U.S. and one in Canada,
    known as PLA distribution sites. A leader of the group, who used to live in
    the metro-east and goes by the name RedBoxChiliPepper, claims to have written
    much of the material.

    [A few things that Zak tried to stress during their short phone interview
    was that we’re not a group, it’s a damn text file publication and that
    we’re not computer hackers nor do we pretend to be but I guess none of
    that sank into Brian’s head when he wrote the article. Hey, I guess if
    it sells the paper it’s okay…

    I’m not the “leader” of this “group” I just happen to write practically
    everything that goes in each issue. I guess Brian is the leader of the
    Belleville News-Democrat since he wrote this story. At the time of this
    writing we had well over 60 published distro sites on Earth, not 23.
    And I didn’t talk to this guy, let alone “claim to have written much of
    the material” as he said. Oh well, despite all my griping about how
    misleading the article was, everyone seemed to enjoy it, including
    myself. We’re still debating on whether or not to add Brian to the
    infamous Loser List. Then someone could write a story about him! One
    last thing is Quinbus’s rebuttal concerning the article. Quinbus is a
    local bbser who wrote the following and sent it in to the newspaper.

    In my opinion, the article mentioned above is possibly the best example
    of ‘yellow journalism’ that I have ever seen in my life. Not only did Mr.
    Crecente fail to present a balanced, non-biased article, but he also failed to
    get the facts which he presented correct.

    Mr. Crecente states that local residents are being harassed by a group
    of local ‘hackers’ who call themselves the Phone Losers of America (PLA).
    But, if he had done any research at all, he would know that computer hackers
    are people who penetrate computer systems for the purpose of exploring it,
    and gathering knowledge and information. Hence, the PLA are not hackers at
    all. They are in fact a small group of ‘phreakers’ who started distributing
    informational text files a short while ago. A ‘phreaker’ is best described
    as someone who exploits flaws in the telephone systems to their advantage.
    Also, he refers to the PLA’s version of harassment as “cactusing,” which in
    all honesty is the most ignorant statement I have heard in a while, but I
    guess it fits in with all the other nonsense in the article. It’s true that

    some members of the PLA like to use the word ‘cactus’ more than most people,
    but they usually just throw it in sentences where most people would ‘a’,’the’,
    or any other common words. The bottom line is that there is no such thing as
    cactusing, and that it is just another piece of information fabricated by
    the reporter.

    Although it may be true that the PLA is or has been harassing certain
    local residents, it is done only in retaliation. Harassment is defined as
    “disturbing or irritating persistently.” If this is true, then the PLA is
    only rewarding harassment with counter-harassment. For instance, the case of
    Greg Carson is particularly relevant. Mr. Carson – mentioned in the article
    sited above – is known in the local computer BBS scene as The Hit Man. Aside
    from the obvious implications drawn from his alias, Greg has seemingly only
    had one purpose since I saw him appear in the scene a few weeks ago. This
    purpose being to cause trouble. He repeatedly made instigating remarks,
    threats, and other immature ramblings in public areas of at least one local
    BBS. And when he made such comments to the PLA, they took action. So why
    is it so bad that this group took such action and counter-harass someone who
    harassed them?

    As I said before, the PLA does distribute informational text files. And
    in the article, it discussed how one local family reported that someone from
    Sweden was trying to bill telephone calls to them. The PLA can’t be held
    responsible for other people’s stupidity. The files are to inform the public
    only, they are not commanding anyone to do anything for them. If someone
    from Sweden is trying to do these things, they should go to Sweden and find
    them, not bother the PLA. I sincerely believe that if it weren’t for people
    like the members of the PLA and other phreakers around the world, who have
    learned enough about the phone systems and their flaws, the telephone
    companies of the world would not be able to make advances in technology and
    security for the consumer. Let’s face it, if there aren’t enough people
    doing something that hurts their company’s profit, they will not spend the
    money to develop new systems. Telephone companies have spent large sums of
    money trying to make the phone systems as secure as possible because of people
    like the PLA, but the systems are much better because of it.

    As for the other major allegations made in the article, they were thrown
    in to make the story just that much more interesting. I think with all the
    hype of the Internet and the public’s newfound knowledge of the computer
    underground, Mr. Crecente was trying to make his story just that much better
    by turning simple phone phreaks into sex crazed, bomb happy psychos. The
    allegations that members of the PLA called and threatened to kidnap and rape
    a 9 year old girl are horrendous. Not to mention implying that the PLA is
    responsible for not one, but two bomb threats. I believe that in all, this
    reporter used the public’s suspicions of the newly discovered computer
    underground as a canvas to paint a very distorted picture of the situation at

    I agree that the public should be aware that there are certain bad aspects
    in the online community. I do not, however, believe that they should be made
    to feel that just because they go online, that they are going to be harassed.
    Just like the real world, if you harass or threaten someone online, you run
    the risk that they will retaliate. In general, everywhere in life, the old
    Golden Rule “Do unto others, as you would have done unto you” applies. If
    these local residents would not have done something harassing to the PLA, the
    PLA would not have harassed them in return.

    In conclusion, if Mr. Crecente would have done more research into this
    story, he would have found that there wasn’t much of a story at all. Perhaps
    only the headline “Telephone Geniuses Get Even.” Instead, he ran a story
    which was filled with half-truths, and worse yet, complete lies.


    Just What In The Hell Does “Cactus” MEAN?? – RBCP

    Every once in awhile I get e-mail from people wanting to know what cactus
    means and where it came from and why we’re so obsessed with it. The original
    meaning of cactus was just to call up a person at random and say absolutely
    nothing to them except “cactus”. For some reason, this really gets to people
    so it can be fun if you’re bored enough.

    I first heard some get cactused when a friend of mine, Amigados (618) came
    to my house about four years ago and he started calling people and cactusing
    them. So I decided to give him a call and ask him about the origin of cactus.
    In a phone interview, here’s what was said…

    “Me and some friends of mine were sitting around a friend’s room and bored
    out of our minds. We picked up the phone and were pranking this girl that
    Steve used to like and she blew him off. At the time we were playing a game
    called Hero’s Quest, but we were playing a really screwed up version that they
    invented one night when they were tripin’ and there were cactuses sprouting up
    out of the ground because they were making up really stupid creatures.

    “I called her right as my character was enveloped by a cactus so I said to
    her, ‘cactus?’ and she said, ‘who?’ and I said, ‘oh, cactus.’ and that’s how
    it started. After that we kept calling her back and saying cactus because it
    seemed to really get on her nerves. All night we picked random numbers out of
    the phone book and cactused people and we did it for days and the next thing
    you know it just became a way of life.”

    That’s the story, Brian Crecente, you shouldn’t have tried to base all your
    knowledge of the computer underground on a couple of PLA files. Just go into
    #hack and ask tr1be about us and you’ll hear, “They know nothing! They are
    lame!” Try reading Phrack next time.

    A few more things about Amigados, he used to drive around in car that had a
    big cactus drawn on the front side of it along with the word, “cactus” and he
    told me that they went around stealing those gigantic real estate magnets off
    the side of cars (those huge advertising magnets, you know?), took them home
    and cut them out in the shapes of cactuses to stick on their own cars.

    “To live the cactus is to live like no man.” -Amigados, 1995

    Dealing With Evil Hackers Cactusing You With A Classified Ad – RBCP

    We all learned from Brian Crecente’s informative newspaper article that
    those evil hackers that hang out on the information superhighway’s #hack and
    #virus can do horrible, nasty things to you, known to everyone in the under-
    ground world as “cactusing!” One of these things would be to put an ad in the
    paper (or several papers) causing your phone to ring non-stop with people
    wanting to buy your house, car or rotweiler named Carolyn.

    Well, our friend Greg Carson finally decided that the only thing to do was
    to fight back with our own methods and place a few ads in some papers with
    Zak’s home voice number. One was a car for sale and one was a house. What Greg
    didn’t know, is that we routinely put ads in the paper ourselves, giving our
    own phone numbers so that we can answer the phone and freak out the people
    that call. (Sort of reverse prank calling. Too lazy to dial numbers? Make the
    people call you!) Greg’s ads made for an interesting weekend at Zak’s house
    and everyone there fought to be the first to answer the phone. Here are a few
    clips of transcripts:

    CUSTOMER: I’m calling about the car for sale.
    ZAK: Oh, I’m glad you called! I slipped on a jar of mustard and I’m trapped
    here under the shelf. Can you come over and rescue me?
    CUSTOMER: Oh, my goodness!

    [The lady ended up calling 911 to help Zak and 911 called Zak’s house to
    find out what the problem was.]

    CUSTOMER: Yes, is Zak there? I’m calling about the apartment.
    COLLEEN CARD: That’s my dad, he’s in the bathroom taking a shit.
    CUSTOMER: Oh, well, I’ll just call back later then.
    COLLEEN: Yeah, it’s a big, gross brown one, I believe…
    CUSTOMER: That’s not really necessary. *click!*

    A half-hour later I got his number from the caller I.D. and called him back,
    yelling in a hick accent.

    RBCP: Yeah, this is Zak! You called about the apartment!?
    CUSTOMER: Uhhh…
    RBCP: I’m takin’ a major shit right now but my daughter brought the cordless
    phone to me so you go ahead and ask your questions! It’s a big, brown,
    stinky shit! What do you need to know!?
    CUSTOMER: *click!*

    CUSTOMER: Hi, I’m calling about the apartment for rent.
    RBCP: Well, it’s funny, a wrecking crew was supposed to knock down the house
    next door but they got the address mixed up and knocked down my house
    instead so I can’t really rent it anymore.
    CUSTOMER: You serious?
    RBCP: Yup.
    CUSTOMER: Boy, that’s crazy. You know, I’m a carpenter and once I was doing
    some work for a fellow up in O’Fallon, roofing some houses and I
    went to the wrong house, pulled up a roof and re-shingled the
    damn thing. And you know what? It was-
    RBCP: (inturrupting) Yeah, yeah, yeah, like I really give a shit about your
    life, pal. Quit babbling to me. *click!*

    ZAK: The apartment? Well, see, a misguided ICBM missle accidentally crashed
    into it and the whole block was nuked. I’ve still got a nice pile of
    rubble to rent out if you want. I’ll give you a discount.

    ZAK: Oh, the apartment? The funniest thing happened, an airplane crashed into
    the house.
    CUSTOMER: An airplane? You’re kidding!
    ZAK: No, I got there this morning and there was the tail of an airplane
    sticking out of my house…

    So you see, harassment isn’t so bad if you have a sense of humor. I remember
    one ad we placed a few years ago using my own phone number and I kept
    convincing people that I wasn’t home but they could go look at the house by
    themselves and just look in the windows to see what it’s like. Then I gave them
    the address of some guy who lived close by and was always home and probably
    wouldn’t be too happy with people peering into his windows. So the next time
    you’re singled out and can’t get any sleep because your phone rings non-stop,
    don’t get mad, get creative and have fun. Do it again, Greg!

    This Issue’s Featured Support Sites

    Not a whole lot of new sites this issue. Hope I didn’t leave anyone out, I’ve
    been busy. Send me e-mail if you’d like to be added to this list…

    415-648-9489 Reality Check………………………San Francisco, California
    603-293-0580 Tower of Destiny……………………..Glendale, New Hampshire
    609-637-9565 Byte This II…………………………….Trenton, New Jersey
    613-736-7909 Crazed Illusions……………………..Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    708-256-5928 0Day Warez Palace……………………..Chicago Area, Illinois
    801-763-7889 The Cardboard BoXXX………………………American Fork, Utah

    Police Log

    A Seattle man was arrested Tuesday after finding the home addresses of six
    AT&T employees and killing them and their families and their dogs. Alex
    Carbon, age 304, is being held without bail and refuses comment.

    Kenneth Milner from the 63rd block of Lincoln was mugged early this morning
    by two white males. He was hit over the head with a balogny sandwich and they
    made off with seven dollars in cash and Ken’s brand new red box. All residents
    should be wary of all white males.

    If you can solve either of these crimes of the week, please call Crime
    Stoppers today at 618-398-7124. And help take a bite out of crime!


    11/09/05 – paul from valentine: final fantasy x and x2 both have cactaurs … any connection? they give no exp or $

    11/12/04 – Fubster from : You must be stoned.

    01/25/04 – Rich from SevenSevenOh: That issue is great! A classic! I remember it from when it came out…what was your distro down here in 404/770? Was it Neraka, Ivory Tower, or Marlboro Country? I don’t remember…if you remember or have the time to look it up, can you please post it?

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  • One thought on “PLA Issue #35

    • February 1, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      I remember Reality Check! Called it frequently back in the day. I still know Poindexter Fortran and PK. There was this bizarre character there named Danny Chan who called every single BBS in San Francisco writing about movies, mostly, and talking about how the lead male characters would get so much sex and describing their bodies in detail. Back in those days I was with a guy named Deek who ran his own BBS and he used to love fucking with him. Ah, those were the days.

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