Help me help a friend who is being harassed via AIM
October 25, 2004 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I have a friend who is being harassed via AIM [MI]

She's never used instant messaging of any kind, doesn't have an AOL account, and recently starting receiving messages on her T-Mobile cellphone. The messages are mildly sexual, and at first she thought maybe some kid was just sending messages to a bunch of numbers.

But now it turns out the person knows her name, and she's freaked out because there's a possibility she's being physically stalked. There haven't been any indications, however, that the person knows what she looks like. Yet.

She's very selective about giving out her number and is pretty sure it isn't anyone she knows. Also, she talked to the police -- they asked "Should we arrest him?" and she said no. She thought about just blocking the guy's number, but that would still leave the possibility of someone stalking her.

So she asked me, "Is there any way to figure out who this is, what their name is?" And that's my question to you.

PS I checked this out, but am not sure how useful the information is since the messages are being sent to a phone.

Thanks.
posted by swift to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
 
You can harass people on their cellphones using AIM? I did not know that.
posted by smackfu at 6:27 PM on October 25, 2004


Well, they're sending instant messages, and the username is from AOL. Maybe the whole AIM thing is a bad assumption though.
posted by swift at 6:32 PM on October 25, 2004


I don't have T-mobile. Nor a sidekick. But...

If the person is harassing via IM, most likely they have the actual phone number (e.g. 5555555555@whatever.com). That being said, one could easily call the number and get voice mail to learn the owner's name. So using the person's name, while freaky, might not necessarily suggest the person knows her.

(Perhaps she doesn't have her name on the vmail message -- but don't forget about the other greeting (usually name only), used for when people send messages from within another voice mailbox.)
posted by Hankins at 6:46 PM on October 25, 2004


she talked to the police -- they asked "Should we arrest him?" and she said no.

Err... I think her options here are severely limited in that case.

The cellphone company will know at least the IP address of the sender, but I doubt they would give such info to anyone except the police.

Why, exactly, doesn't she want the police involved? A crime is being committed here (harassment, or maybe even stalking). Is she up to something sketchy? Does she actually know who the person is, but doesn't have any proof?
posted by falconred at 7:09 PM on October 25, 2004


When I last checked, you can block people from your IM list while using a computer-based client. Can't you do the same with it on cell phones?
posted by MegoSteve at 7:17 PM on October 25, 2004


you can use the AIM service to txt message anyone by adding "+1" in front of the #.

so +18005551212 sends a txt message to 800-555-1212
posted by filmgeek at 7:23 PM on October 25, 2004


Is she up to something sketchy?
I don't think she's involved in anything sketchy, but just thinks bringing the police in at this point is a bit overkill.

one could easily call the number and get voice mail to learn the owner's name.
That's a great point.
posted by swift at 7:26 PM on October 25, 2004


Can't you block senders from a cell phone? I've never tried on mine.

Anyway, I'd contact AOL and explain the situation. They might at least drop the person a friendly little note, which might put the fear of god in them.

Also, maybe send a reply saying the police have been contacted and are taking the appropriate action? That might also shut them up.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 8:41 PM on October 25, 2004


Here's another idea: maybe if you download aim, register an account and set it up to work with the phone, then block the sender, it'd prevent the messages from going through to her phone.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 8:43 PM on October 25, 2004


YAN's got it. Contact AOL- this person is violating their TOS. They take this stuff seriously (and, from what I hear, are even a bit overeager about cutting off people's accounts). Make it their problem.
posted by mkultra at 4:51 AM on October 26, 2004


Thanks everyone.
posted by swift at 7:17 AM on October 26, 2004


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