Drug dealers are spamming me
June 5, 2015 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I let a stranger use my phone on the weekend, and since then, I've been getting 'advertising' text messages from multiple drug dealers. When will it end? (And are all my text messages going to be flagged, forever&ever, amen?)

So, first I ignored the problem.
Well, other than wondering what 'lems' were.

Then I thought I'd just block the number, but I couldn't see how to block numbers on UK Vodafone. Seriously, how hard could that be?

Then I was about to send a message saying hey, wrong number, could I stop receiving them? But the issue has already multiplied - I'm now getting messages from two different numbers, both claiming to be someone called 'Ash' and that the other number is a 'fake', and the second number is sending even MORE messages (kind of like these!).
So now I'm worried that this is a "Never reply" spamming situation, which as I'm getting up to 8 messages a day is what it is starting to feel like (do they pass contact lists round? Is this a thing that happens? Will I just get more and more?), and for spam, I wouldn't respond, and would just use an on phone blocker.

But won't these messages are still show up as coming TO me?
Will my number go on some kind of watchlist somewhere?
The texts are just filled with ridiculously druggy keywords, which would surely be a doddle to filter for, and other than text message surveillance, they just seem so incompetent, that surely one of these muppets is going to get arrested? Maybe they already have been? Maybe one of the numbers is a nice policeman saying "Come by, come buy?".
I'm getting all the benefits of paranoia without the drug use!

I mean, it is a kind of fascinating little social drama, and insight into another culture, and I REEEEAALLY want to know why they are both claiming to be the same person, but I'm more nervous than amused.

This is the number on my CV, and I'm quite proud of having a clean security background check, and all I can imagine now is little 'peng lemon' flags going up if I ever need special clearance for something (Ok, so not that likely, but point being, I WOULD have been fine before).

I have absolutely no idea what the best thing to do in this situation would be, and neither did my equally clueless friend, so I thought I'd get advice in case there is a way to just block these, or before going ahead with the plan to responding to each of them asking them to "Please delete my number", or if I should just get a new phone number (which seems like overkill, but I guess I don't have that many people that call me).
Hope me, Mefi?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total)
I would call my local police station and ask a police officer what they would recommend doing.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 7:35 AM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think after all the recent revelations about how invasive GCHQ has been, it's not paranoid to assume your phone number is now on a list called "Likely Drug Customers" or whatever. It is paranoid to think that anyone is ever going to use that list for anything actionable, in the same way that it's unlikely that police are ever going to start investigating people who get drug-related spam emails.

As for going to your local police station-- well, if I were a copper and someone walked in tried to sell me a story of "I gave my phone to a random stranger, who then used it to buy drugs" well... I'd roll my eyes until they fell out of my head.

Most I'd do is report it to your cellphone company as spam texts, then block it and forget about it, it's not like the sender is tapping it out with her thumbs, it's an automated computer just spamming a list. Just think of it as spam email.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:44 AM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

This app will help you easily block numbers on your Vodaphone.

Don't reply, block the number, delete the texts, and move on. Don't worry about being on a list somewhere. You say "I WOULD have been fine before" but in this day and age they can really get anyone for anything (c.f. googling for pressure cookers) anyhow.

Being kind to strangers sometimes backfires, which is really too bad. Not much an incentive to help others in the future if this is the thanks you get. But I'll say a genuine thank you for loaning your phone to someone in need; sorry that s/he turned out to be a jerk.
posted by sockermom at 7:54 AM on June 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

Flip your keyboard to chinese, and reply with crazy junk and a frowney face emoticon every time you get a text. They'll back off when you don't understand them.

> Excuse me Sir, would you care for some of the jazz cigarettes?

> 夜来幽梦忽还乡☹☹☹
posted by cmiller at 8:04 AM on June 5, 2015 [18 favorites]

As for going to your local police station-- well, if I were a copper and someone walked in tried to sell me a story of "I gave my phone to a random stranger, who then used it to buy drugs" well... I'd roll my eyes until they fell out of my head.

I didn't say walk in there; I said call them. On the telephone. They can spare 30 seconds of their day to answer my question about whether I should be concerned about being on a watch list because of those text messages. I had to call the local police station once because of a strange guy seemingly napping outside the front door of my work, half-naked, surrounded by stolen sunglasses, because I couldn't just leave him there and I wasn't really sure what to do. The officer I spoke to was really nice and then they sent three cars and six police officers to deal with the guy. If they can spare that many officers to deal with one guy, they seem to have enough staff and enough time to answer one simple question.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:11 AM on June 5, 2015

A friend who used to know lots of drug dealers tells me that a message along the lines of "Sorry, but you seem to have a wrong number. Please stop texting me." would be enough to get them to stop. The tone makes it clear you're a non-drug kind of person who just wants the texts to stop, isn't a potential customer, but isn't especially interested in going to the police as long as they do stop. They don't have any incentive to keep spamming you in response or generally react weirdly. It should just stop. That's what my friend would do, anyway.

It wouldn't surprise me if the texts have gotten you onto some list or other somewhere but if you're not responding with an order/meet request, and generally aren't getting involved in any deals, there's pretty much zero chance of it ever leading to anything that affects you.
posted by Drexen at 9:41 AM on June 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

If it were me, I'd sign every last one of them up for Cat Facts.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:51 AM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Someone gave my number out to a bunch of people as their drug dealer's number. At first it was kind of funny, but after one idiot couldn't mentally process my "you have the wrong number" messages and kept trying back, I installed the Mr. Number app and blocked their numbers. It seems to have worked. It wouldn't block any messages from NEW numbers, but should stop the repeat offenders.
posted by Safiya at 12:38 PM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

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