My dad has told me numerous times that I have an uncanny ability to mess with people, and unfortunately for him a lot of my efforts are directed his way. He took a nap yesterday and I decided to pass the time by exploiting his lack of technology knowledge to give him a good scare. For the previous week, I had transferred 30+ gigabytes of music to his new laptop, and I used that as the basis for this prank. I created a fake Gmail account called "" and sent this with subject line "AMA File Transfer Warning":

Mr. Paul Ryckert,

My name is Jonathan Bachmann and I represent the American Musicians Alliance of America. We are writing in regards to a large amount of DRM-encoded files that have been transferred to your Toshiba L505D-S5983 laptop beginning on the 20th of December, 2009. Over 30 GB of .mp3 files with URL origin have been transferred en masse to your hard drive beginning in this period and continuing for several days. This past April, a lawsuit filed by the American Musicians Alliance, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and the Recording Industry of America deemed the practices of to be criminal and the proceeding trial found them guilty on all counts (

Due to this verdict, all files of .mp3, .wmv, .mp4, .avi, and .mov format with URL tracking origin are illegal and subject to prosecution. Via a content freeze warrant obtained by the State of Kansas, we have frozen the current hard drive status of your Toshiba L505D. No suit has been filed, but we request that you provide proof of ownership of the original files. There is no legal obligation for this, although further warrants and possible charges can be filed if you do not take this action by the 15th of January, 2010. Please respond to this email with .pdf files showing original ownership of the .mp3 files transferred since 12/20/2009.

Thank you for your time and cooperation,

Jon Bachmann
American Musicians Alliance

I saved the message as a draft so I could send it while I was at the bar with him later on, thus giving me an alibi of "How could I have sent that? I was at the bar with you!" (keep in mind, a lot of parents probably don't understand the concept of drafts).

While at the bar, I snuck into the bathroom and sent the email. I didn't expect him to read it until we got back home, but as I sat back down at the bar I saw him staring at his Blackberry with an incredibly concerned face. He turned the screen and had me read it. Not wanting the rest of the night to revolve around him freaking out, I told him not to worry about it and that we'd deal with it when we got back home.

Things didn't work like that. For the next hour or so, he freaked out about the email, asking me about what a "content freeze" was and whether or not he was going to get sued. He bought it hook, line, and sinker despite several blatant giveaways (the Gmail address, the "content freeze" term which I don't think is a real thing, etc.). We went to another bar and he spent the entire drive asking me questions about the situation. Everything that came out of my mouth was BS and I just used technology terms out of context knowing that he wouldn't understand how little sense I was making. It made no sense that they would ask for a .pdf file showing ownership of the files, but he believed it as long as I made it sound confusing enough.

Originally, I intended to stretch this out for a few days just to see what his responses to "Jon Bachmann" would be. I was even ready to provide him with an "American Musicians Alliance" phone number for him to call, which would just be an out-of-town friend of mine pretending to be one of their representatives. Unfortunately, his concern was way too much and I couldn't stand to make him suffer any longer. He spent a good twenty minutes on the phone talking to his girlfriend about it, and I finally just told him "Well it's a good thing I'm just ****ing with you about all this." Deservedly, I received an immediate hard punch to the arm and a lot of "You son of a *****!" exclamations.

I told him that if we had stretched it out further, "Jon" would have requested that he drop his hard drive off at the AMA office at the local City Hall. That doesn't make any sense for a variety of reasons, but he still said he would have done it. So kids, take this as an example...if you need to screw with your parents, use technology. It'll scare them no matter how little sense you're making.