It’s in our nature to play mean-spirited pranks — their secret appeal is that they make us feel powerful. Whether we’re throwing a scare into someone we know is bound to panic, or merely engaging in mindless vandalism, we’re in charge. We get to say how much gets destroyed or how far the prank goes. There’s something deeply satisfying in leaving a big mess, then snickering behind our hands as others try to figure out who the perpetrators were.

But what happens when the pranks get out of hand, when real harm is done? Sometimes the jokes turn ugly.




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Pins, needles, and razor blades have been found in Halloween treats.


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Coed’s cries for help while being raped go unnoticed during campus scream session.


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Drug addicts are leaving HIV-laden needles in pay phone coin slots.


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Gang members are depositing a deadly mixture of LSD and strychnine on pay phone buttons.


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Fun-loving teens are lobbing lit gasoline-soaked rags into cars halted at red lights in a deadly game called spunkball.


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Woman who failed to use e-mail bcc is stalked by on-line acquaintance.


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HIV-loaded needles have been found attached to the handles of gas pumps.


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Zero Population Growth terrorists have taken to boobytrapping toilets in men’s restrooms.


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Black cats are routinely sacrificed by “satanic cults” at Halloween.


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Razor blades have been found amidst merchandise sold at a Wal-Mart store in Lewistown, Pennsylvania.


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Acid found in hand soap dispensers in mens restrooms in Alabama and Florida.

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