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Comedian Jerry Lewis was an incorrigible phone prankster, and recordings of his hijinks, dating from the 1960s and possibly earlier, still circulate to this day.
Very prominent people have fallen victim to prank callers, for example Elizabeth II, who was fooled by Canadian DJ Pierre Brassard posing as Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, asking her to record a speech in support of Canadian unity ahead of the 1995 Quebec referendum.
One such hoax call occurred in Perth, Western Australia, on New Year's Eve 2002, when a drunk teenager called the new anti-terrorist hot line to report a bomb threat against the New Year's Eve fireworks celebrations.
The threat was taken seriously, and the celebrations were about to be cancelled when police discovered that no such threat existed.
In one, they telephoned Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, and spoke to him pretending to be Cuban president Fidel Castro.These calls are extremely difficult to trace since they may pass through servers and routers operated by multiple corporations or entities in various countries.Although law enforcement agencies may theoretically be able to find where a Vo IP call originates from if they tried, in practice the amount of time, effort, and resources required would be too great to use on ordinary prank calls.Some prank calls are criminalized in many jurisdictions, for instance if the call involves calling the emergency services, while others may be protected as freedom of expression.
For example, in the US, for a prank call to fall afoul of the Telecommunications Act, , the call must be done with the intent to "annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass".
Callers can also call from payphones in order to hide their identity, although this is becoming less common as pay phones are beginning to phase out starting in the late 2000s.