And who the hell is Mike, anyway?
January 22, 2008 7:09 PM   Subscribe

For the past five days, I've been getting the same nuisance phone call three to four times a day: Phone rings, I answer. Male says "Hello, could I speak with Mike please?" and the line goes dead before I can get a word in edgewise. Caller has a vaguely Scandinavian accent, with the same inflection every damn time. I suspect it's a recording. What the hell is going on?

Last-caller-ID returns a number with the 749 area code, which as far as I can tell doesn't exist. I've tried all the links mentioned here, but no luck.

What benefit could anyone conceivably derive from phoning and playing a recorded message at me?

FWIW, these calls are not in the least intimidating. Just odd.
posted by YamwotIam to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Quite often dodgy 'wrong numbers' are someone casing your place. To be honest, your instance sounds a bit weirder than that, but a potential burglar is certainly someone who could 'conceivably derive [benefit] from phoning and playing a recorded message'.
posted by pompomtom at 7:13 PM on January 22, 2008

Your phone company might be able to block these calls. Give them a call and let them know that you've been getting harassing calls that show that number. They have more advanced tools than called ID to look into it.
posted by Dasein at 7:19 PM on January 22, 2008

If you ring that number, it's conceivable it will be routed to a pay-per-call service, and the charges will appear on your next telephone bill. This is a similar scam on the 749 exchange.
posted by b33j at 7:21 PM on January 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think b33j's scenario is most likely.
posted by danb at 7:22 PM on January 22, 2008

Have you punched the number into ?
posted by COD at 7:31 PM on January 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Have you punched the number into ?

Thanks COD, but no luck there either.
posted by YamwotIam at 7:38 PM on January 22, 2008

The "749" area code could be a foreign country code. When I get calls from Iceland my phone says the numbers have the area code of "354" which is Iceland's country code. "749" incidentally, would be somewhere in Russia, possibly Moscow (that would country code "7" plus the Moscow area code of "495." Other possible cities, according to this list are Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kostroma and Ryazan).

However, this theory is far from perfect. Russian telephone numbers have ten digits plus the country code "7" so your phone should be showing an eleven digit phone number instead of the normal 10 digit one.

Also, for a while I used to get repeated calls searching for someone in particular, I can't remember the name anymore, and then they stopped. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Oh, and as regards b33j's link, an "exchange" and an "area code" are not synonymous. The numbers in the prison scam were coming from a "749" exchange. Area code is the first part while the exchange is the second part. In the number 123-456-7890 "123" would be the area code and "456" the exchange. I think, I'm not an IT person.
posted by Kattullus at 9:10 PM on January 22, 2008

If you want to block the calls, google "caller id manager," a product that can selectively block numbers based on their caller id or block numbers calling without caller id. It hooks up to your phone and in the long run is cheaper than adding privacy services to your monthly phone bill.
posted by conrad53 at 9:20 PM on January 22, 2008

b33j's link jibes with something I've read about. I'm pretty sure he's right, in that they're calling and hanging up rapidly to try to get you to call back, and will then charge you exorbitant fees if you do call back. (You could try calling from a payphone to confirm?)

Maybe this sort of scam will spur the telephone companies to issue a warning before connecting you to any pay-per-minute services? I can't imagine that's not already required!
posted by fogster at 9:35 PM on January 22, 2008

One quick thing that might stop these calls is to record this tone into the start of your answering machine message, wait a second, and then record 'Hi, this is YamwotIam' etc. Any bots doing calls (like this potential one, and auto-sales callers) will identify your line as dead and remove you from their lists. If this is automated, that should stop it.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:11 AM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: You could try calling from a payphone to confirm?

I think it's worth investing in a phone card for this... I'll let you know what, if anything, I find out. Thanks all, for your help!
posted by YamwotIam at 4:20 AM on January 23, 2008

Well, same thing happens to me about 2 times a week, same person, asks for a Faruk than hangs off after I said something. No caller id.
But I somehow never felt scared about it.
Got used to it. Its part of my week now.
posted by kall at 5:45 AM on January 23, 2008

> One quick thing that might stop these calls is to record this tone

Although it's important to note this doesn't appear to be a universal effect — people who have done this report that they still get calls (albeit a reduced number).
posted by WCityMike at 8:02 AM on January 23, 2008

Response by poster: Lame update: I tried phoning, for "please hang up and try your call again" results. Gah!

(I'll ask the phone company to block the caller now)

Merci encore.
posted by YamwotIam at 7:32 PM on January 24, 2008

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