Who's texting these creepy guys, and why do they think it's me?
April 30, 2010 5:16 PM   Subscribe

I've been receiving a lot of strange calls/voicemails from equally strange old men lately, who are all horny as hell. They're responding to text messages they say they received from my number, and these texts are evidently of a porny nature. But I haven't sent them! I can't find evidence of any such texts whatsoever. I actually tried to talk to one of them to find out if the texts are actually FROM my number or if they just MENTION my number, but the guy was so flustered and embarrassed that all he'd do was stumble over his own tongue trying to protest his innocence. So, what's happening? Is this a known scam? Can I do anything about it other than change my number?

Background info: I *did* change my number a few months ago, but this has only started happening within the past couple of weeks, so I can't imagine that these dudes are only just now responding to messages sent from whoever previously had my number.

I called T-Mobile support, but they didn't seem to understand what I was trying to tell them, which probably wasn't helped by the fact that I don't really know what's going on, myself.

I'm this close to changing my Android Firewall settings to automatically hanging up on everyone not in my contacts, but that seems a little extreme. It's just... damn. Some of these guys have been persistent. Ew, dudes.
posted by katillathehun to Technology (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If it is just one or two numbers that are calling you, set up a specific "ring" which is, in fact, not a ring at all...just silence, and ignore them... they'll probably go away..

If it is a lot of different numbers... I would change my number...
posted by HuronBob at 5:20 PM on April 30, 2010

Response by poster: It's a lot of different numbers, and I have a call blocker app on my phone that works nicely, but it doesn't do a lot of good when new ones come in so frequently, and they leave voicemail messages that gross me out. Changing my number is at the bottom of the list of options, but it's an option. I'm hoping there's a possible explanation first.
posted by katillathehun at 5:24 PM on April 30, 2010

Have you made any enemies recently who might be having some fun with you by posting your number somewhere?
posted by 517 at 5:27 PM on April 30, 2010

Response by poster: Not to my knowledge, and my friends aren't really pranksters, either. I suppose it's possible that whoever previously had my number had some enemies, and they're just now getting around to it?
posted by katillathehun at 5:29 PM on April 30, 2010

Maybe do a Google or a local Craigslist search for your phone number? May come up with the source, and then you can get the offending item yanked (if possible.)
posted by spinifex23 at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

enemies recently who might be having some fun with you by posting your number somewhere?

This wouldn't be right, since the men calling say they're responding to SMS from her. The relevant term for what appears to be going on is Spoofing. SMS spoofing is apparently easy to do if you're not in the USA, but difficult to do in any directed sense here. Anyway, you might have better luck telling a level 2 op at T-Mobile that someone is SMS spoofing with your number.
posted by carsonb at 5:32 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's another link for SMS Spoofing. This site apparently used to be a web portal for spoofing text messages, but were shut down rather quickly and reopened as an information portal. It seems to be UK-centric.
posted by carsonb at 5:37 PM on April 30, 2010

Best answer: OK, someone who has your number and a reason to abuse it could very well be sending texts from something like fakemytext.com except instead of using some random anonymous moniker in the 'From' field they're putting your phno in and winging out porny SMS versions of the ol' bathroom stall standard Call For A Good Time.
posted by carsonb at 5:41 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That sounds like it's on the right trail. These poor desperate guys are convinced I'm texting them (the one I talked to told me not to be shy when I told him the contrary. I kid you not), so it doesn't seem likely that they're getting my number from Craigslist or whatever.
posted by katillathehun at 5:42 PM on April 30, 2010

Our culprit wouldn't have to post your number anywhere for that to work, either. They could post a throwaway number in the CL ad (or wevs) and then reply to incoming texts using the fakemytext site to spoof your number. That's kind of elaborate-sounding, but not too much of a stretch for the random-sample douchebag.
[closing in on that triple crown!]
posted by carsonb at 5:46 PM on April 30, 2010

This is a situation where I think it's appropriate to call the police. You're being harassed -- plain and simple.

If somebody (or several somebodys) has your number, you need to figure out how they got it, change your number, and prevent this from happening again. The police can help you do all three.
posted by schmod at 6:23 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

What I don't understand is, how are the texts finding creepy old pervs? That's what makes me think it's someone who does this sort of thing for a living, who is accidentally putting your phone number in instead of hers.

Or do we think the texts just being broadcast to all and sundry, and only a few select messages land in the laps of creepy old pervs, so to speak?
posted by ErikaB at 6:43 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Same question here -- where are the icky recipients' numbers coming from? Try Googling those if possible...at least if they're all posting their own digits to Craigslist you'll have one more link.
posted by lhall at 6:46 PM on April 30, 2010

Document it and call the police. This actually happened at my workplace. Over the course of a year hundreds of people got weird text messages "from" our main public phone number. It was freaky and scary. Call the police and explain what's happening.
posted by Neofelis at 6:51 PM on April 30, 2010

I might be able to help you, Katilla. Text me.

(Yes, it's someone using one of those web gateway services, since they don't validate.)
posted by rokusan at 6:52 PM on April 30, 2010

Response by poster: The callers come from all over, but I Googled them, and a couple of them *did* turn up in Craigslist postings. Others didn't turn up anything in particular. I don't know for a fact that it's only pervs who get these mysterious texts - I've been getting quite a few calls from other numbers I don't recognize and haven't answered; it's just the gross ones who go to the trouble of leaving a message. And I guess it would make sense. I don't know how many people would actually respond to a sexy text message from someone they don't know, y'know?
posted by katillathehun at 8:02 PM on April 30, 2010

What is the goal of giving out her number? I don't get it. Unless they are trying to mess with her directly.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:16 PM on April 30, 2010

Well, I see two possibilities: Either she's irked one creatively evil juvenile savage or her phone number is a digit off from some sort of ineptly-staffed lechy porn service and/or scam .
posted by carsonb at 8:31 PM on April 30, 2010

Maybe there's a reason this number recently became free and was added to the available number pool. Previous owner had an enemy who has been arranging the harassing txts, previous owner changes number as a last resort, number gets assigned to you randomly and harassing txts continue...
posted by youthenrage at 8:48 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ah, okay. If you think non-pervs are getting the message too, then I lean towards spammers.

It's a common scam to send someone a sexy text message, with a return number that's an offshore area code. Unwittingly the lech calls the number, which looks perfectly normal, except that calls to that area code cost like $500/minute.

That's a scam that's been around for decades. In this age of SMS gateways, it's usually perpetrated by scripts. I could see some inattentive spammer putting in the wrong reply number area code or something. In fact, SMS spam is a pretty big problem.

They would be spamming a huge list of phone numbers, randomly generated and not. You can buy valid phone numbers for quite a lot of money - and obviously putting your phone number into a Craigslist ad is a great way to have it harvested in this way.

Unfortunately that would mean it's not going to stop any time soon. And there's nothing you can do short of changing your number again. But on the up side, I think it's very unlikely that someone's targeting you deliberately.

When you phone your provider to change your number, be sure to explain why you're doing it. There are often fees for number changes, but the support reps are often able to waive them in cases like this.
posted by ErikaB at 8:49 PM on April 30, 2010

Try a google search on your number, without the area code. It's possible there's a popular number in another area code, and you're just getting the local callers who fail to enter that part of the number.
posted by zippy at 9:49 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could report it to your phone company, but I doubt they'll be able to do much. I think probably your only practical solution, short of finding out who these guys are supposed to be calling and pointing all of them there (yikes!) would be to change your number.
posted by asciident at 5:37 AM on May 1, 2010

Until you resolve the problem, can you change your outgoing voice mail message to include something to the effect of "BTW, if you are responding to a lurid text from this number, please refrain from responding, etc. etc. All responses are being routed to law enforcement...." I don't know, something so that you don't have to answer or call them back.
posted by ourroute at 9:13 AM on May 1, 2010

It is not hard to send a SMS 'from' someone else's number. In fact, it's trivial because there's absolutely nothing in the SMS specification to prevent it.

My online SMS portal I use for a couple of businesses does it like *snap*. It is likely someone is doing this.

BUT, it's also possible it's a glitch with a number change. Ring your Telecoms provider first, and then just block the numbers.
posted by Quadlex at 10:21 PM on May 4, 2010

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