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October 3, 2012 | By Christie D'Zurilla
Ashton Kutcher is the latest famous name to be associated with a "swatting" - a malicious prank in which a seemingly serious distress call to police turns out to be a false alarm with a spoofed phone number, aimed at luring a SWAT team to swarm a particular location. Police hurried to Kutcher's Lake Hollywood home late Wednesday morning after a woman called police - more on that "call" later - and claimed to be hiding in a closet because there was an armed man inside the home, L.A. Now reported.
September 17, 2012 | By Meredith Blake
"Fox & Friends" co-host Gretchen Carlson got an unwelcome surprise Monday when Max Rice, a young man purporting to be a disaffected supporter of President Obama, decided to turn his appearance on the Fox News morning program into an audition tape for "Punk'd. " In a segment meant to showcase the high unemployment rate among 18- to 24-year-olds, Carlson welcomed Rice, introducing him simply as a "recent college grad" who supported Obama in 2008 but is now unemployed and only recently moved out of his parents' house.
August 14, 2012 | By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times
The man standing at Norman Johnson's door that cold January evening was a stranger who might have seemed vaguely familiar. Johnson, a retired high school instructor who taught English and coached tennis and football for 35 years in this unassuming town, probably didn't even have his door locked when he came to greet the bearded, gray-haired visitor. The man bluntly asked him, "Are you Norm Johnson?" When the 72-year-old Johnson didn't answer quickly enough, the man asked again.
August 2, 2012 | By August Brown
Miley Cyrus' Studio City home was the subject of a massive police raid Wednesday, allegedly prompted by a prank call. The singer and actress wasn't home at the time of the raid, which occurred after a 911 call came in at 6:50 p.m. reporting a kidnapping in progress with shots fired and one person hit. Officers responded and entered the home in the 11000 block of Amanda Drive with guns drawn, but quickly determined the call was a hoax. In the prank known as swatting, perpetrators place fake distress calls aimed at luring police SWAT teams to raid an unwitting victim's home.
July 18, 2012 | By Danielle Paquette
The Internet has spoken: Pitbull shall perform in Alaska. In a product-promo move, the "International Love" rapper, real name Armando Christian Perez, agreed to visit the Wal-Mart that generated the most Facebook likes. Sounds fun, right? How could social-media democracy possibly go awry? Enter Boston Phoenix writer David Thorpe, a man so put off by celebrity marketing stunts that he rallied Web troops to "Help us help Wal-Mart exile Pitbull to Alaska. " "As of now, the Kodiak Walmart has over 22,000 new 'likes' on Facebook, putting it far ahead of any other Walmart in the nation - far ahead of Kodiak's actual population, in fact," Thorpe wrote.
June 17, 2012 | By Matt Stevens, Los Angeles Times
A lamb tied to a post, a peanut butter smearing session and a drive-by water balloon attack are sure signs that it's that time of year again. For years, graduating seniors have tried to leave their mark by plotting the perfect prank. But as the schemes have escalated in complexity and daring, school officials are coming down increasingly hard, banning whole groups of students from graduation ceremonies because of stunts that went too far. At Heritage High School in the Bay Area town of Brentwood, more than 50 students were suspended and banned from walking at their graduation ceremonies, according to officials with the Liberty Union High School District.
June 13, 2012 | By Scott Collins
"Cake Boss"Buddy Valastro might want to stick a rolling pin his mouth - at least when it comes to making transgender jokes. TLC has pulled Monday's episode of the popular reality show set in a New Jersey bakery after Carmen Carrera - a transgender woman who has appeared on"RuPaul's Drag Race" and other shows - vehemently objected to how she was portrayed. Carrera said the producers lured her on to the show under false pretenses, making her believe she'd be a role model for transgendered persons when in fact she was used as part of a homophobic prank.
April 1, 2012 | By Tami Dennis
Today is April Fool's Day, also known as All Fool's Day and, unofficially perhaps, Don't Trust the Media Day.  Yes, yes, that's every day in some circles. But on April Fool's Day, the warning has particular resonance. Because year after year, April Fool's Day proves that some people will believe anything if it's presented with a straight-enough face. Take the BBC report on the bumper Swiss spaghetti harvest. The vanquishing of the spaghetti weevil made such a thing possible, the BBC reported in 1957.
November 21, 2011 | By Chris Foster
There is pomp and circumstance on one side and paranoia on the other. This is the UCLA-USC football rivalry — even away from the field. The Trojans and Bruins face off in their annual game Saturday night at the Coliseum. But the games relating to the game have already begun. USC and UCLA students are playing offense and defense, keeping a close eye on statues of Tommy Trojan and the Bruin Bear. This marks the 70th anniversary of the first hostilities. So, on a stormy Sunday afternoon . . . Three Trojan Knights, one in a suit and bow tie, dance in the rain to Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk," part of an hourly ritual that includes ringing the Victory Bell and bellowing a USC chant.
August 14, 2011 | By Robert Faturechi and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
The calls started without warning. Every line on every phone in the Compton sheriff's station lighted up at once, hundreds of calls pouring in for hours. One sheriff's official compared the scene to the aftermath of a major earthquake or a mass shooting. But the cause of the deluge wasn't violence or natural disaster. It was Twitter. At 5:23 p.m. Friday, the Twitter feed for Compton rapper The Game posted a message encouraging his 580,000 followers to call the posted number if they wanted an internship.
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