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PRANKS 2 Excerpt: Lydia Lunch & Monte Cazazza

MC: You have to be a lot more careful now. There are a lot more alarms and a lot more cameras and a lot more stuff everywhere. Cameras are the worst part, now. You could be three blocks away, walk by, someone has a tape, and whoever investigates just watches everyone that walked by.

You have to wear disguises and everything now. Or you have to figure out where everything is. Some cameras are really hard to find. A clock or a smoke alarm could have a camera in it– that’s very common.

You have to assume that there is a camera somewhere, so what are you going to do about it? There are so many cameras everywhere now that you never really know. In London, they have ’em everywhere now. Like every block.

V: That’s what J.G. Ballard said. I read in the New York Times that there’s one on every city block in New York City, looking down. I wonder if, now, the police catch everybody who pulls stick-ups?

MC: They probably don’t really want to.

V: Why not?

MC: Because they would spend all their time doing that, so they have to prioritize what they’re going to do. Only if something really bad happens, or if someone does something that’s really lucrative–then they might go all out.

V: Years ago, I read there are satellites that can survey every square inch of the planet and read a license plate. But they can’t catch Osama Bin Laden–

MC: You have to conclude that they don’t want to catch him.

MARIAN WALLACE: You can only read a license plate if you know where to look.

MC: Yeah, you have to know where to look.

MW: You can’t go over every square inch of the earth–

MC: And even if you could go over every square inch of the earth, you have to spend the time doing it. They only have so many people looking, and they don’t save everything forever. But you never know when or where, so that’s the problem– you have to scope things out really well.

V: This is like a new obstacle for wannabe pranksters: increased surveillance.

MC: Or for wannabe burglars–that’s what I call ‘lucrative pranking’! You assume there could be a camera there, but there could be someone watching, or there could be no one watching. They could save their tapes or they could toss them; they could break ’em or they don’t put two and two together. Or they do put two and two together and they start looking at every camera they can find. For instance, if you stole something fairly expensive and they knew when, they might go to every place around there if they really want to investigate.

V: You don’t read about that much in the paper.

MC: Of course not!

V: I did read an article in the New York Times that at Macy’s flagship store in New York City, there are like six hundred cameras placed throughout it. This was such a huge number that I thought it was a misprint; maybe it should have said sixty. They printed a photo of a little room with three people watching wall-to-wall monitors.

MC: Have you ever been to Las Vegas? There are thousands of cameras in any of those casinos. They’re always watching them.

V: Of course.

MC: You can still get away with stuff, but it ain’t as easy as it used to be–

LL: To be a prankster.

V: But pranksters, or rather, criminals, have gotten away with millions over the Internet, by stealing credit cards and stuff. That happened to me. I bought something at a downtown Italian clothing store that I later realized might be Mafia-connected. Shortly afterwards, I was up north in this small town and bought gas and some groceries. When I got back, someone from the credit card company called and asked, ‘Were you just in Tokyo?’ [laughter] And I said, ‘No!’ And they said, ‘Well, we didn’t think so, because we have records of you buying gas and being in this store up north. At the same time, someone with your card number just spent six thousand dollars on camera equipment in Tokyo.’

MC: I bet they did!

V: We found out later that it’s the store that suffers; the credit company never loses. The store in Tokyo was out six thousand dollars.

LL: On TV I saw a documentary special about fake ATMs. The filmmakers contacted a guy who used to be a high grift fraud con-man. He found some Middle-Eastern guys selling ATMs (they look like a slot machine)–no background check or anything; they’d just sell ’em to anyone. And this is what they did to prove how stupid people are. At an ATM, they had ‘Clean your card’ pop up on the screen. Like, you need to clean your fucking ATM card? And people would swipe it, and that’s how they could get all your information. Anyone can own an ATM, and there’s a lot of fraud going on from that.

MC: It just reads all your information and then says, ‘Temporarily out of money.’

LL: I think I should have my own ATM. See again, money for something you didn’t do. That I can respect.

MC: Now they have all those little ATMs that Pranks 2: Lydia Lunch & Monte Cazzaza you see everywhere. Now is the perfect time to get your ATM, because you can move it around everywhere.

LL: I could be like the little drummer boy with an ATM strapped to my chest. I could just be like a walking cash dispenser which steals everyone’s cards.

V: And apparently it must be easy to make a fake Visa card with someone’s number on it.

LL: A lot of times, you can just call in numbers and order stuff over the phone.

MC: The credit card companies have never made any attempt to make them secure, because they know they’d make less profit if credit card crime were wiped out! They’ve probably made millions just off criminal transactions, and they probably know that and don’t want to lose that future income.

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