Time-wasting Package Hoax for April Fool's Day

Introduction: Time-wasting Package Hoax for April Fool's Day

The purpose of this Instructable is to describe my April Fool's prank for my boss this year. My hope is that many of you can benefit from this idea and perhaps expand upon it.

The beauty of this prank is that, if executed properly, the victim will not realize they have been hoaxed for a long while and will be hard pressed to figure who duped them... especially when performed in the faceless environment of an office. Plus, it makes a delightful mess of their work space.

This has been entered into the April Fool's Contest. If you found this informative then please remember to come back April 3rd and vote.

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Step 1: The Plan

This prank does not offer the visceral intensity of say, setting a bucket of water up top a door. It is however, just as immature. Furthermore, this hoax offers the slow-burning satisfaction of watching your victim go through their day in complete confusion and allows you the opportunity to bold-face lie them into further confusion.

The idea behind the hoax is simple: People love getting packages and would never expect an important-looking package to contain nothing. Well, almost nothing... 

Above you can see my drawn-out plan:
A package absolutely stuffed with styrofoam packing peanuts is made to appear "important" and subsequently placed before your victim for their enjoyment. The box has been selected in such a way that after the victim opens the box, they will be forced to dump the contents into the nearest trashcan to expedite the recovery of the "precious components", which of course do not exist. Once they realize that they have missed these precious components, they will be forced to resort to rummaging through the trash like many a transient hobo before them.
After they give up (a few minutes perhaps), the victim may waste additional time by calling the company or sales representative that sent them the package to figure out what exactly is going on. Of course you will have made up said company or sales rep, furthering the confusion.
Meanwhile, you will be plugging away at your workstation like the diligent worker you are, only stopping for the occasional mind-chuckle as you picture your colleague hunched over their trash can, elbow deep in styrofoam packing peanuts, sweating like they're shooting for a 5 o'clock deadline... except that it's only 10am.
Who do you think the superiors are going to promote for that new opening in management: the dishevelled, smelly, sweating kid who's workstation is covered in paper bits and styrofoam peanuts? or you, fresh and proper plus, oh look at that... you finished that assignment on time because you didn't have a stupid empty box to deal with all morning?
That's right, this prank is also the first step to a better you.

Step 2: The Set-Up

Planting the Seed

One of the best methods to sell this hoax is to heighten the importance and authenticity of the package. Obviously, any randomly appearing package will be initially met with suspicion effectively hindering the impact of the prank.

One way, I figure, to create importance for your package is to have your victim expect the package using interaction with a contact; a contact that you will invent.

Here I have drafted up a company letter from a sales representative to the victim. Of course everything about this letter is fictitious, as I have made up the company and the sales representative. Notice the mock-up of a simple yet effective company letterhead and small details like notes in the footer, which add to the authenticity. If you are not confident in making up a company, feel free to use an existing company that you know the victim does business with. This option is much more vindictive (see The Prank).

This letter also gives the opportunity to add subtle April Fool's hints such as:
  • The company name "APRL" abviously sounds like "April"
  • The double-helix fish: This originates from Poisson d'Avril or April Fish, which is what April Fool's is referred to in Quebec, Canada (http://bit.ly/hlHspf)
  • The sales rep's name: Abril Al Awal directly translates to April the First in Arabic.
To further add authenticity, I decided to run the printed out letter a couple times through the office fax machine to make it look as though it was faxed from the (fictitious) company.

Then you just stick it into the victim's mailbox the night before or at the same time you drop off the package. 
The seed has been planted.

Step 3: The Prank

Next up is building the all important package.
Find yourself a box that is longer than it is wide and only about 1 ft. in width and depth. The box must also open at either short end and not along the length of the box. The idea is that you don't want your victim to consider opening the box along the side or in a manner in which they can reach in to look for the (non-existent) contents. In effect, you are forcing them to have to pour the contents into some other receptacle i.e., the trash can.

Here I have an empty box that is about 2.5ft. by 1ft by 1ft. take any stickers or labels off the sides. It seems like a small box (and it is); no one would expect "micro samples" to be in a gigantic box. Don't worry, you'll be surprised at how much junk can fit into here.

I had been saving up styrofoam packing peanuts for awhile; basically anytime they arrived with something that we ordered. Fill up the box with the packing peanuts and really jam them in; I was able to stick in about 1.5x the volume of a standard office trash can. For good measure you can also toss in some confetti or those paper holes from the hole puncher. That'll learn them good.

Step 4: The Prank

Once the box is all packed and taped up, it's time to add to the authentic details with a few labels and forms. In our office, we have some FedEx international waybills for easy shipping. If you can't find any at your work place then go to your local post office and procure some. Or skip this step but don't skip the next step.

A note about the sale representative and company:
As I mentioned before, when filling out company information you can choose to invent a company that is fictitious or use an existing one that you are certain the victim does business with. The beauty of the latter is two-fold: 1) An existing company logo is easy to find online and making said company letterhead is simple if you have existing examples. 2) If your victim wants to follow up with the company, calling a fictitious company will lead to a sudden dead-end and end the ruse. However, having your victim search an existing company for a fictitious sale representative is not only more time-wasting and vicious, but also funny.

Step 5: The Prank

All expedited mail is nowadays affixed with labels and stickers detailing electronic bar codes and QR codes and what have you. So there's no reason why your seemingly legit package shouldn't be covered in these labels as well. 

Here I have ripped the labels off of a couple of boxes from some previous orders. I then scan these labels and manipulate them using Photoshop. MS Paint will also do. The key is to scan at a high resolution and have your file in black and white, not greyscale. It is much easier to cut out addresses and names when the background is white and not some random shade of grey. On one label I also imported a B&W version of the company logo that I had mocked-up. Remember: It is imperative that you stay consistent to maintain the hoax. All names, phone numbers, addresses, etc. must match up between the labels, waybill, and faxed letter to retain credibility.

Print out your new labels and cut them out, following the contours of the old stickers. Use stick glue to adhere these labels onto your box. Strategically place the stickers to cover any old labels or torn up cardboard from removing the old labels.

Voila! A perfect, special package ready to be opened and enjoyed!

Step 6: The Prank

Place the package at the victim's workstation, ideally when they are away from their desk.
To be extra vindictive, you can toss a half-full cup of coffee or a banana peel or used coffee grounds or all of the above into their trash can.

Now sit at your desk, do your work, and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
While you won't necessarily get to enjoy the exact moments of their discontent, realize some things are always better when left to the (idle hands) of the human imagination...

Please remember to come back and vote April 3rd.

Step 7:

Walked by later that day and snapped a few pictures with my phone.

Found the box. Looks like someone took the waybill and ripped the labels off. Probably to research the company/check for DNA fingerprint evidence.

Trash can by the victim's desk was completely filled. As was another bin that was recruited to the work area. The obnoxious/great thing about those styrofoam packing peanuts is how they break into tiny pieces when you step on them or crush them. They also hold a lot of static charge and stick to everything: walls, chairs, pants. Brilliant.

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    10 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Cant wait to do this, putting a bunch of fishing weights hidden inside of it, a bunch of strofoam things, and one paper clip! Thanks!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is hilarious! How did your boss take it?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    he spent about 10 minutes with it in his office, then came out and asked the secretary, who obviously had no clue.
    she was then instructed to contact the company. too perfect.
    2 for 1!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    love the creativity and complexity of the prank.


    8 years ago on Step 7

    Classic! Gets my vote. The only change I would make is to have 'April fool' printed on the back of the waybill or inside the bottom of the box where it will eventually found. But it depends how much you want to annoy the victim €=)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Everyone else's pranks are pretty much slap-stick comedy, while this humor is definitely more subtle.

    Unfortunately, I don't think too many are going to get your brilliance.
    But I do.