People: Joshua Herald's epic April Fool's Day prank
When Columbus drummer Joshua Herald left his day job as a control systems engineer at American Electric Power in 2010, it took him a while to find another gig. Given his scientific knowledge and love for "Breaking Bad," his bandmates speculated on what he was up to.
"[They] thought, 'Well, he must be cooking meth,'" said Herald, who is also a freelance videographer and sound engineer.
It became a running joke among Herald's friends, but no one actually believed he would turn to a life of crime. So they were completely shocked when they woke up on April 1 to a 10TV news report that he'd been busted for running an international drug operation.
Messages of bewilderment and disgust spread throughout Facebook. Fifteen people refused to be associated with a drug dealer and "unfriended" Herald.
Eventually, everyone discovered Herald wasn't Columbus' own version of "Heisenberg"; he'd just pulled off an epic April Fool's Day prank.
About a week before the holiday, Herald purchased a domain name - wbns10news.com - that could be easily mistaken for the real 10TV website. He then used screen capture software to gain access to a real 10TV video about a drug bust, and added his fake prison photo and shots of his house he'd filmed earlier in the week.
"I purposely put trash on the porch [and] I didn't mow the grass," Herald said. "It looked like somebody was making meth because they weren't attending to the house."
Other footage shows his basement, which was staged to look like a meth lab.
"The chemicals I added in there," he said. "Most of that was from a childhood chemistry set."
He also hired a voice actor to narrate the story. Once the website and video were live, Herald gave the link to three friends to share on Facebook with fake reactions. Anticipating a slew of phone calls, he updated his voicemail message to say that his number had been disconnected (said message even fooled this writer, and almost prevented this story from happening).
"My expectation was that [the prank] was going to stay within my music and film community friends," Herald said. However, he soon learned his family had contacted the sheriff's office in hopes of visiting him.
"They were a little sore about the whole incident," he said.
He also discovered that a SoHud neighborhood watch Facebook group was discussing the story. They concluded that they should contact the news station for more information.
"I'm fairly confident that was the first time that 10TV heard about it," Herald said.
A short time later, 10TV's vice president of corporate security reached out, asking Herald to get in touch with him. It was late in the day, so Herald figured he'd call on Monday, take the website down and that would be that. He even considered sending 10TV his resume; after all, he had demonstrated his video and editing skills.
But before Herald could follow up, he received a cease-and-desist email from the network's legal counsel, Jones Day. Herald complied with their request to take the website down. When they asked for ownership of the domain, Herald informed them that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers would not allow a domain to be transferred for 60 days.
Unmoved, Jones Day informed Herald that they were filing a lawsuit for damages up to $150,000 for copyright infringement. As Herald waits to be served, his outlook is surprisingly positive.
"My hope is that they just drop it altogether," he said. After all, he did not make a profit from the website or video. "It'd be hard for them to prove $150,000 worth of damages done to 10TV."
Despite the threat of legal trouble, Herald does not regret the prank. And while he doesn't know the outcome of the lawsuit, he is certain of one thing.
"When it's said and over [10TV] will get a resume from me."
Day job: Freelance videographer, sound engineer and private tutor
Current neighborhood: SoHud
Currently listening to: Identities by Playing to Vapors
Favorite restaurant in Columbus: Blue Danube
Favorite movie: "Fight Club"
Favorite TV show: "Breaking Bad"
What is your go-to hangover remedy? "I don't drink alcohol. I've literally never even tasted beer."