On Reddit, I found a pigpen message written on the skin of a prisoner. The plaintext provided in the post doesn’t look correct to me.
Encrypted messages created by criminals have always been a popular topic on this blog. Here’s another one.
A pigpen cryptogram
According to a Reddit post published three years ago, the following message was found “on a gang member in prison” (I don’t know if “on” means “on the skin of”):
As can be seen, the encryption method used here is a pigpen cipher. I have blogged about this old and wide-spread family of crypto methods numerous times. As there are countless variants of the pigpen cipher, its not always easy to decrypt a message that is encrypted this way, even if one knows the system.
To my regret, the Reddit post doesn’t provide any background information about this alleged prison cipher. We don’t know where this message was encountered and when it was created. And of course, I can’t rule out a fake.
A probably incorrect solution
Below the said Reddit post, exactly one comment was published. It provides the following alleged solution:
XAST CRACCIN CUZ SELL ALL DA LOCT SO PEW ON DAS TAS 7:10 PM GENERAL LIBRARY
CFL MCL OG RSC SRECE IMO 73’79’0$ LOC
If this plaintext is correct, the creator of the message would have used the following pigpen variant (it’s one of the most simple and most common versions, with the only tweak that the dots are placed above the symbols, not within them):
However, I dont trust this solution. Except for GENERAL LIBRARY, none of the plaintext words makes sense. There are several explanations I can think of:
- The decryption is correct, but there’s an additional encryption involved.
- The decryption is correct, but the plaintext mainly consists of slang words I don’t know.
- The decryption is incorrect, except for the expression GENERAL LIBRARY. This would mean that two different pigpen variants were used in the same message.
- The decryption is incorrect, but the wrong pigpen chart differs from the correct one only in a few points. This would explain that two words decrypted correctly.