Reddit user shadybusiness15 posted pictures on Reddit in April showing his deconstructed extension cord. According to the post, he “violently blew a fuse” and took it apart to see the damage.
Inside, he noticed strange wires and a SIM card with a serial number on it. Through the subreddit /r/RBI, known as the Reddit Bureau of Investigation, users weighed in on the situation, eventually identifying the mysterious device as surveillance equipment.
/r/RBI made the Subreddit of the Day page back in February 2012, only a few months after user DecidingToBeBetter created it. After reading about two other threads — one about a criminal who robbed a family blind, the other pleading for information about a student’s disappearance — DecidingToBeBetter wanted to use Reddit to “solve crimes/mysteries and catch criminals.”
The mystery surrounding shadybusiness15’s modified extension cord stands as the subreddit’s “famous” case, with the most comments of any thread. Somewhere within these 875 comments, users identified the device as a microphone. Here’s what went down:
1. Top commenter fryguy101 provided a link to a device on Amazon that looked like the one he found. Building on the observations of jetRink, fryguy101 also figured out that the device contained a microphone. It seemed somebody wanted a soundtrack of shadybusiness15’s life.
2. Shadybusiness15 also posted the pictures on subreddit /r/whatisthisthing. Top commentor Topher587 wrote, “Your extension cord is a room bug. Someone calls the phone number on that SIM and the extension cord auto answers and listen to the room. SPOOKY.”
3. After landing a spot on Reddit’s “Best Of” page, shadybusiness15 posted an update. He cross-referenced the number (not pictured) from the SIM card with his parents’ call histories. Nothing. Then, he called the number himself. The number told him: “The service is now closed. If you have voicemail you can turn it on.”
4. Shadybusiness15 created an account with 02, the bug’s manufacturer. When he called and asked for the incoming call log, the company told him he’d need a warrant.
Although Reddit never identified who bugged shadybusiness15, users on RBI definitely proved the existence of said bug. Shadybusiness15 began to wonder if his college wanted to spy on him. Other theories included “helicopter parents,” an obsessive mum and dad monitoring their son, and the police. Shadybusiness15 insists he’s not doing anything all that interesting, especially to law enforcement.
Since the update, users have encouraged shadybusiness15 to, indeed, get a warrant.
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