Mobile phone subscriptions as revenge
April 2, 2006 6:23 AM   Subscribe

RevengeFilter: My friends and I are receiving threatening phone calls from a neighbour. How can I subscribe him to a few text message alert services, considering I know his number and I am in the UK?

Believe me, this guy deserves everything he gets. My friend would like to cause him physical harm, but I would rather just give him a taste of his own medicine. I'm sorry in advance if this question breaks the rules, but I am pretty annoyed.
posted by Acey to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total)
For example, I found one that send you a daily Haiku, which sounds wonderful, except you must send a text to start it. Is there any website that will take the phone number directly?
posted by Acey at 6:25 AM on April 2, 2006

Agent SMS possibly.
posted by ed\26h at 6:33 AM on April 2, 2006

Why use text messaging when you can use the phone instead? (Who says the first number you put in there has to be yours?
posted by emelenjr at 7:04 AM on April 2, 2006

This is a potentially difficult situation for you and I can understand your wish to carry out some revenge phone shenanigans.

However, revenge in these situations often leads to further antagonism and trouble from the originator of the calls.

You don't say whether the calls are going to your mobile phone or your landline. If the calls are going to your landline then it is possible to set up a 'blocked number list' where numbers listed are banned from calling your number. If the threatening, nuisance caller finds a way around this by calling from another number, then you can ask your phone provider to set up a monitor on your line which will trace the calls. If necessary and with your consent, the police may be asked to take action to stop the caller threatening you.

Making offensive or threatening phonecalls is illegal in the UK. BT provide some guidance (.pdf) for dealing with this problem.
posted by Arqa at 7:31 AM on April 2, 2006

You can't; any (premium-rate, I assume) text service in the UK must require confirmation from the terminating handset, unsubscribe instructions on every message, warning messages every 20ukp, etc etc, or ICSTIS will pull the whole shortcode. In the currently regulatory climate, the aggregators won't risk getting an entire shared shortcode pulled because of a single rogue operator, so they're very hot on preventing this kind of thing.

Rewriting the originating handset number is technically possible (similar to rewriting the From: line on an email), but even if such a message made it as far as an aggregator (unlikely), I would expect them to drop it on the floor because of the weird originating SMSC.

I'm probably going to regret this, but anonymous text "services" do exist (sharpmail, hoaxsms, etc. I'm not affiliated in any way, and I'm not in competition with them - they're a bit low, even for me).

However, IMO an attempt to sign someone up to a premium-rate service stands a reasonable chance of being treated as fraud. Don't take the risk of digging yourself in deeper here, just let it go. As long as you're pissed, this guy is winning. Take a deep breath and get on with your life.
posted by Leon at 7:32 AM on April 2, 2006

Call the cops. That'll screw up his life a whole lot more than any text messages.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:36 AM on April 2, 2006

I appreciate that you want to take direct action yourself, AND that this eejit probably deserves it, but...
Aren't you* at risk of being seen as a harasser yourself? If this guy reports you to [BT/the police/whoever] before you report him, you will look like the guilty party.

In the eyes of the police, you may both be committing offences. The best you could hope for in that situation is that he gets fined more than you.

Gather evidence, report him, be smart. And win.

*All instances of 'you' = plural you: you & your mates, of course.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:39 AM on April 2, 2006

I'd second the 'call the cops' move. It has the advantage of being legit, anything he does to pay you back for that will be frowned upon even more by the police if you do have to call them again.

What you're looking at doing is a crime any way you slice it, and once you lose the moral high ground in a little turf war like this it becomes nearly impossible for anyone to get out intact, let alone 'win'.
posted by tiamat at 8:06 AM on April 2, 2006

Since you know his address and phone number, you could do some pretty devious stuff. But you need to do a bit of preparation if you want to win this thing. First, change your phone number. Otherwise he'll just attack you the same way you attack him.

If you have a car, then you'll also need secure parking. Even if your car is a POS beater, he might still slash your tires or smash the windows. If your car has no windows, then he might piss in it.

You will also need lexan covers for your windows. Be sure to get these in place early. A preemptive thwarting will save you money and also let him know you mean business.

You will also need to get a PO Box. If he intercepts your letters, he might discover new avenues of attack. You mustn't let him discover where you work, for instance. Contrary to common wisdom, a clever enemy will probably avoid stealing your bills and bank statements. Due to increasing awareness of identity theft, police are likely to investigate theft of bank mailings. Also, the victim's bank will simply reimburse any losses, negating your hard work.

And finally, you mustn't have outdoor pets that could be poisoned or released onto the highway. It's a ghastly thought, but who knows how far your crazy neighbor will go before conceding defeat?
posted by ryanrs at 8:31 AM on April 2, 2006

BTW, I'm not joking about the pets. Two of my neighbors have had their dogs killed in these sorts of disputes. One was shot, the other taken to the highway and run over. The police did nothing in either case.
posted by ryanrs at 8:32 AM on April 2, 2006

Threats are illegal. By retaliating you are in a sense condoning his actions and admitting that you don't take the threats seriously. This will lose you sympathy with the police should you wish to call them in the future. I say phone the police straight away. Unless, of course, this is *already* a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other, in which case the best couse of action might be to apologise for anything you've already done, back off, and see if it goes away.
posted by nthdegx at 8:44 AM on April 2, 2006

Make a record of the threats and present the evidence to the local cop shop.

You could also get a restraining order against him which would make further actions more damning and the cops more likely to intercede.

Taking things into your own hands does not usually end well.
posted by fenriq at 9:44 AM on April 2, 2006

Thanks for the advice. I realise now that any retaliation is childish, and I have resisted up to now. I am living in University Halls, which means this neighbour is essentially on my doorstep. The trouble he has caused us has been taken along all the correct procedural lines so far, and I intend to continue with that. If nothing gets done, maybe getting the police involved would work. It was a stupid idea I guess, but then we are immature. Thanks anyway!
posted by Acey at 9:54 AM on April 2, 2006

Good call. My suggestions were really just a description of some illiterate inbreds living down the street. I changed some of the details to better fit a normal middle class living situation. For example, they don't have lexan window armor. Instead, they just pile shit agaist the side of their house.
posted by ryanrs at 10:53 AM on April 2, 2006

There's always the 'pee on a baking tray and freeze it, then slide it under his door' approach.

But I think listening to the reasonable voices in this thread and letting it go is probably a better idea.
posted by anthill at 2:37 PM on April 2, 2006

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