By Christel Phillips - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Diboll man is a key member of a national crime ring which has created personal humiliation and thousands of dollars in damage across the nation, according to TheSmokingGun.com.
TSG posted a story on Tuesday claiming to identify the people behind the scenes of "Pranknet," an online community that executes vicious pranks. The web site also says James Tyler Markle, 18, of Diboll, is a key member of the crime ring.
"He's one of these young men that has spent a lot of time on the Internet," Bill Bastone, TSG editor said.
Bastone says that's what led them straight to Markle. On TSG a story alleges Markle is the user know as "prankster" who was involved in telephone prank calls across the nation that have caused personal humiliation and cost businesses thousands of dollars in damage.
Including an incident at a Baytown, Texas Arby's Restaurant. TSG says on July 5th, Markle and another prankster allegedly made a call to the restaurant using technical jargon to convince the employees to activate the restaurant's fire suppression system.
The two also ordered employees to break the windows to allow toxic fumes from the fire-suppression foam to escape, but the employees did not execute that order. The prank is estimated to cost the restaurant $4,600 in damage and lost sales.
The Web site say they were able to track Markle as the prank caller through numerous web sites.
"Old profiles of prankster that led us to that, a little biographical details about 'prankster,' the guy linked them to Diboll, Texas," Bastone said.
Bastone says photos from MySpace and Facebook helped them to confirm his identity.
"We had a couple of people in Lufkin that knew him recognize the photos of 'prankster' and said that's Tyler Markle," Bastone said.
Recently, TSG spoke with "Prankster" after obtaining a Skype telephone number. In that conversation he refused to discuss Pranknet.
( A portion of the phone conversation below.)
Prankster: "If you want to talk to me about something other than Pranknet, you're more than welcome to..."
Bastone: "But what else could we talk about. I'm not (inaudible)."
Prankster: "I see what you're trying to do, I'm not trying to fall into your trap, I'm not pretty much letting everything about myself go."
Bastone: "I'm not asking you anything about yourself..."
Prankster: " I'm not going to give any information about Pranknet."
Even though Markle says he is not involved, Bastone stands by the investigation.
"We would not accuse someone on being a participate which essentially amounts to a crime spree if we were not a 150 percent certain that's him," Bastone said.
Now it appears the same technology markle allegedly used to wreak havoc on innocent victims has tangled him in his own Web.
"He left a trail, he thought he was the smartest kid in the room and didn't think that anyone could put two and two together, and essentially that's what we did," Bastone said.
Markle has not responded to a Facebook request for an interview. He did speak with The Lufkin Daily News and denied being the person known as "Prankster."
Sometime Thursday afternoon, TSG published another story on their site alleging Markle as a child molester, with a copy of release papers from the Texas Youth Commission.