My Breaking Bad Prank Gone Wrong Almost Cost Me $150,000

My Breaking Bad Prank Gone Wrong Almost Cost Me $150,000

-My name is Josh. For 24 hours, I was
an international meth dealer. -The first thing I remember
is seeing his mug shot. -It didn’t quite feel real,
you know, but it was still something
where I said, “I can’t believe what
he’s gotten himself into.” -This is my friend.
He is a great guy — I think. -Neighbors tell 10TV
they never noticed anything suspicious
about this house, but police say it was a meth lab
and stash house. ♪♪ -In everybody else’s minds,
I mean, this was as real as it could be. But none of it was true. It was all a prank. -Like, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” It’s crazy.
I can’t believe he did this. You know, I can’t believe
he did this to his mother. -When you start something
like that, you don’t realize
what the fallout is gonna be. -They moved in with lawyers
pretty quick. -I would have died.
I mean, that’s unbelievable! That’s a serious case you got
against yourself, man. This prank got way bigger
than I could have ever imagined. It affected way more people
than it should have. My feelings were just very mixed
on being proud and also I’m in trouble. ♪♪ Growing up, I was always
huge into science and tinkering with things. I got a chemistry set, Legos when I was
smaller than that. I was always the smart one, the one that really liked
math and science for the fun. And I was also always
a good kid, I never got
in that much trouble. Eventually, I did go to school
for electrical engineering. I worked at a local utility as a control-systems engineer
for a while. Just wasn’t
really fitting me 100%, so I decided to up and leave. And my perspective was,
“I’m taking a year off of everything and just live off
of my savings for a bit.” Get more into music and film and just see where life
was gonna take me next. -Josh is my first nephew. When Josh left the power
company, we all — our whole family
pretty much wondered what was going on with him. Where did he go? What’s he doing now
with his time? He’s quitting there
to work in a band? You know, or to… to do video stuff? Okay, maybe it’s a phase. You know how people always go
through phases in their life. -When I left my 9:00 to 5:00,
you know, people did wonder, “What is he gonna do next?
How is he gonna make ends meet?” As the years went on,
people just assumed, they’re like, “Well, maybe
he’s doing something else. Like, maybe he’s selling
drugs or something.” And, you know, it kind of
became a running joke. -We had been over
at Josh’s house all the time, but I never really knew
what he was doing for money. Me and Josh are both
huge fans of “Breaking Bad,” and he was always making
the jokes of, like, “Yeah, maybe one day,
I’ll become the new Heisenberg.” He had a lot of that
scientific background, and so it kind of made sense. And the basement was just
somewhere we’d never go. It was kind of always
blocked off. He’d still be making those
jokes, like, “Oh, yeah, well, that’s where I’ve got all the
chemicals stashed down there. Got everything cooking down
in my basement.” It fit so well. -A lot of my friends,
by this point, had just constantly made this
joke about me having a meth lab. The ultimate goal of this prank,
contrary to where it did end up, it was more or less to satisfy
an inside joke that had been going on
for a number of years. It was never meant to be
anything more than that. ♪♪ In order to pull off this prank, it needed to be
as authentic as possible. So, the initial incarnation
of the prank was to post
a fake news article of me getting busted
for having a meth lab. I went and actually bought
the domain The real one is From there, I went to
the actual 10TV website to gather the source code and all the images and assets
from the actual website. The idea was that it would look
precisely identical — re-edited by me, to, you know, have my own little story
and everything. I actually downloaded the
introduction from the newscaster who was talking about
drug busts here in Columbus. They would be referring to,
“There’s a big drug bust.” And the idea is that that’s when
it transitioned into the shots of my house,
shots of the drugs. That was all put together
from just random things I had laying around. I had a childhood chemistry set with little beakers
and tubes and things. For the mug shot, I purposely
didn’t shave for a while. I don’t think I showered
for another few days, just to look as gross and grimy
and everything as I could. A lot of news stories have
a narration to it, so I needed a voiceover. The person who did the voiceover actually didn’t know
what it was for. I just told ’em it was a funny
inside joke thing, and they did the script,
and I paid ’em. -Neighbors tell 10TV
they never noticed anything suspicious
about this house, but police say it was
a meth lab and stash house. In the news story, authorities
found $13,000 in cash with 28 pounds of crystal meth
worth $100,000 and that I was being held
on $3 million bond, and that I was
the mastermind behind it all. All that needed to be done
is that it needed to be shared. And I couldn’t share it,
because, obviously, I’m in prison, quote-unquote. So, I needed to confide with a
few friends to share that link. It was posted on social media. I put my phone on silent,
and just went to bed. I figured, “Well, I’ll just
wake up the next morning and see what the damage was.” ♪♪ -It’s like 2:00 in the morning, and I get a frantic call
from my sister, which is Josh’s other aunt. And she’s like, “Jen,
you need to watch this. It’s a newscast about Josh.” So, I’m looking at Facebook. I mean, I was just like,
“What the fuck?!” I saw his mug shot,
and I was like, “Oh, my God.
Oh, my God! That’s my nephew! That’s my nephew.” I was watching it while I was
on the phone with her. I was like, “I can’t believe
he did this!” You know, I can’t believe
he did this to his mother. First I was mad.
I was yelling. But then, we started crying. All I could think was, like,
“What do we do now?” We get on a three-way phone
conversation with Josh’s mom. Wake her up at 2:00
in the morning. We’re like, “Well,
your son’s in prison.” And she’s like, “What?” And then everything went silent.
We told her why. We told her that he’s been
charged with making meth and charged with one of
the biggest drug rings in Ohio. She was devastated. Her voice was weak, tired. You could hear her crying. She was up that whole night. [ Birds chirping ] -I woke up, and I roll over,
and look at my phone, and it’s just exploding. Just constant barrages of, you know, messages
and phone calls and I saw upwards of about
a hundred missed calls. And at least, like,
50 different messages. Most of them just wondering,
“Did this happen? Are you okay?” The very next thing I did is
I hopped on Facebook real quick, and I see literally a thousand
notifications that I have. You know, people tagging me. And that’s when I realized
everyone was sharing. It was just all over
the news feed. At that moment, I thought, “Uh-oh. This may have
gone too far.” -So, I woke up. I immediately rolled over,
checked my phone. And, instantly, the first thing
I saw was a post about how my friend was in jail and had been secretly running
this whole meth ring. And there was his face
in a mug shot, and he looked all disheveled, like he’d just been
inhaling chemicals for three days on some big cook
or something like that. Pictures of his house
with police tape and images of the basement
that we could never go down to. It was just stunning. It was something we had
joked about so much, and he was just laying
these bread crumbs for us the entire time. -I think everything was fitting
in its place. He quit the power company,
he doesn’t have a job, but he’s making money. Where’s he getting this money? I could see him in a suit
in his basement with a big old chemistry set. I’m thinking, “Yeah, he could
probably pull this stuff off.” I think he was living through
that series of “Breaking Bad.” -Thinking about it
throughout the day, the image of cops finding him
and grabbing him and handcuffing him,
throwing him in the cop car, and then him sitting
at the end of the day, hopefully, wallowing in
his self-pity or something, you know, in a jail cell
in an orange jumpsuit. -I’m thinking,
“He’s been in my home. I’ve been in his home! I haven’t seen the whole house.” Watching it, I was like,
“There’s no way! All that time,
we were joking about him being some kind of crazy meth
kingpin, and he really is!” Have I been this close
to danger my whole life? I had no idea. The video about Josh
had definitely spread really quickly amongst
the friend circles on Facebook that night. However, by the next day,
it had gone way outside of that. -There was a large variety
of comments — people who said, “I always knew
he was a weird, strange guy, so, you know,
maybe he deserves this.” Other people kind of
defended it, saying, “We shouldn’t immediately
judge people by the news and there’s always more
to the story.” You know, maybe there was
just desperate measures and maybe times were tough, so he just did
what he knew how to do.” And I was a complete fly
on the wall. As far as everyone knew, and they
thought I was just gone forever. So, I could see a lot of what
people thought about me without the filters —
both good and bad. The fake news article of me getting busted for meth
was shared about, a little over
20,000 times that day. By that point,
I had took a break, and I thought, “Okay, well,
I need to call my mom.” Like, if it’s really, like,
this viral, then she deserves to know. So, I called my mom. She picks up pretty quickly. And I tell her, you know,
that you may have seen something on Facebook. She gives me the, “Uh-huh,”
that, you know, it’s not true. It was a short conversation. Her tone said it all. She obviously didn’t want
to talk to me that long. I had a feeling
when you’re a kid, and you’ve done something wrong, you know you’re grounded,
basically. And it had been a long time
since I had that feeling. I thought the prank
was finished, but it was about 4:00
when I got the e-mail from the senior vice president
over at 10TV wanting to have a chat with me. It’s a short e-mail. It’s only
a couple sentences long. He just says,
“I’ve seen the website, and I want to have
a conversation with you.” Shortly after that, I did get
a formal cease-and-desist order. More or less just said you need
to take down the website, take down the video. But then he requests that
I transfer over the domain that the website was hosted at. And knowing that
there’s a 60-day lock period to be able to transfer
that domain to him, I knew there was no way
I could give them that domain until that transfer lot
had expired. You know, I said to him,
“I can’t transfer the domain. There’s a 60-day lock period.” And then that’s when the tone
changes to rather threatening. One of his last e-mails
was that you have two options. One, you can give them
the domain, or, two, that they would sue me
for damages up to $150,000 if they didn’t get their domain
by 5:00 that day. -I’m sure that scared
the crap out of him. That’s a lot of money. He was seeking attorneys. -I would have died! I mean,
that’s unbelievable to have one of the biggest news stations
in Central Ohio coming after you, saying,
“We’re seeking $150,000.” I mean, that’s a serious case
you got against yourself, man. -The very first time I decided
to come clean with the prank, I did it earlier
than I expected. I wanted to have the entire day to let this prank
kind of run wild. But I was getting so many,
you know, different messages, and there was just
so much activity, I thought, “Okay, well, maybe
it’s about time to come clean.” -Around 5:00 or 6:00 is when he
finally came out with it, yeah. “This was all a joke, guys.”
[ Chuckles ] -Finally, I started to relax
a little bit. I was like, “This is not real. This is the most masterful
prank I have ever seen.” -That’s the worst joke
I’ve ever heard in my life. That’s not even close
to being funny. I mean, that is seriously
the worst of the worst. You just —
That’s not funny at all. -I’m waiting for
this $150,000 lawsuit, so I had been assuming that
the paper is gonna hit my door. But, after a few months, they
eventually did get the domain. I think I figured by that point,
if there was gonna be a lawsuit, it would have happened
by that point. So, in a way, once that domain
was taken away from me, I celebrated. ‘Cause for me, the officially
over four months later after it had done its thing. Even to this day,
my family asked me, “Why did you do this? Don’t you have something
better to do with your life?” -He is a genius. He’s very, very smart,
but he has no common sense. I was actually pissed
for a while, and eventually talked about it
and was able to mend things. I forgave him. That’s just because
I found out it really wasn’t for family
to know about anyway. -You know, when it comes
to pranks, it’s one of the things
where you can’t predict precisely what’s gonna happen,
how far it’s gonna reach. So, just know that at some
point, you have to come clean and you have to face
the consequences with it. At the end of the day,
I still feel very proud about that prank, even
if they’re a little bit sore. Yeah, my mom would smack me
in the head right now. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪


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