Man used prank phone calls to frighten woman

A Franklin man charged with making terroristic threats toward an 87-year-old woman said he did it because he was bored.

Patrolman Bradley Barnhill of the Franklin police department filed a criminal complaint Tuesday in district judge Matthew Kirtland’s office naming Michael Ray Perry, 33, of 166 Peach St., in the charges.

Barnhill said he was dispatched to the woman’s residence on Grant Street in Franklin the evening of Nov. 6, 2015. He said he had investigated a similar incident with the same woman and Perry on Oct. 18.

Barnhill said that through his investigation he determined Perry had made at least four anonymous calls to the woman even after being told to stop calling. The complaint says the calls made by Perry were meant to terrorize, annoy and alarm the woman.

Perry used a software application on his smartphone called PrankDial, according to Barnhill. The application’s purpose is to make calls from a cellphone or computer, using a fake number to appear in the victim’s caller ID system.

When the victim answers the phone, one of hundreds or thousands of recorded messages chosen by the caller is played to the victim, the complaint said.

Barnhill said that based on the victim’s response, the software chooses what follow-up message to play back to the victim. The phone call is recorded and the caller can listen to how the victim responded, the complaint said.

On both occasions, Perry used the PrankDial software from his cellphone. The message to the woman said her son owed $2,000 for the purchase of a certain amount of cocaine, the complaint said.

The woman was then told that Perry knew where she lived and that he could actually see her from where he was standing.

She was then told that if the defendant didn’t get the $2,000 that physical harm would come her way, the complaint said.

Barnhill said the woman would often hang up on the caller, only to be called again. Perry could obviously tell the woman was upset and alarmed, Barnhill said.

Barnhill reported at one point the woman’s family members would answer the phone, demanding that the calls stop. But Perry continued to call, the complaint said.

Throughout the investigation, Perry denied all accusations that he was the person calling. But on Jan. 20 he finally admitted he was the caller and told Barnhill he had used PrankDial when calling the woman, the complaint said.

He said he made the calls “because he was bored,” according to the complaint.

Perry was charged with two misdemeanor counts each of terroristic threats with the intent to terrorize another, harassment-communicating repeatedly in an anonymous manner and disorderly conduct-engage in fighting.

Perry is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Feb. 24 in Venango County Central Court.