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Someone spied on this Reddit user — using a bugged extension cable

Commenters on the social news website analysed images of a strange collection of wires found inside an extension lead — and identified it as surveillance equipment.

BACK IN APRIL, a user on social news website Reddit posted pictures of an extension lead he dismantled after it “violently blew a fuse”.

However, what was found inside the plastic casing was not the sort of thing you would expect in such a common household item.

Shadybusiness15 noticed strange wires and a SIM card with a serial number on it. After posting it on a Reddit forum known as the Reddit Bureau of Investigation (/r/RBI), users weighed in on the situation, eventually identifying the mysterious device as surveillance equipment.


(Image Credit: Reddit)

/r/RBI gained a lot of traction on the website just months after it was created by user DecidingToBeBetter. This was after two other items on the website caught his attention — one about a criminal who robbed a family blind, the other pleading for information about a student's disappearance — and they decided to see how Reddit could be used to "solve crimes/mysteries and catch criminals".

The mystery surrounding shadybusiness15's modified extension lead stands as the forum's most "famous" case, with the most comments of any thread. Somewhere within these 875 comments, users identified the device as a microphone. Here's how they worked it out:

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.


(Image Credit: Reddit)

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."

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(Image Credit: Reddit)

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 mom 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.

- Christina Sterbenz

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