Prank Calls
August 22, 2004 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Prank calls: about two weeks ago, there were a couple messages on my machine, "hey crees, we will fock you up" or something like that - it was unintelligible for the most part to the point that I couldn't tell if it was Spanish, Middle Eastern, or Eastern European gibberish. It spooked me, but I got over it...

...well, they started calling back tonight, and the best way to describe the accent is Spanglish done Baltic style. The caller ID has turned up "private caller" for all but one time; I reverse-looked up the number to find it's in New Jersey (I'm in St. Louis). Do I block the number, get the phone company involved, call the cops, what? Knowing that it's from NJ makes me unafraid, but a whole lot more annoyed, since they're calling on the half-hour.
Ah, here they call again...
posted by notsnot to Grab Bag (22 answers total)
Call the phone company first. See what they can do for you.
posted by riffola at 10:21 PM on August 22, 2004

Yep, call the cops.

They may be joking (in which case it's not funny) or they may be serious (in which case, some guy named Chris might buy you a beer later), but it's a crime either way.
posted by Hildago at 10:22 PM on August 22, 2004

Response by poster: The cops told me to talk to the phone company, whose offices are closed (I can't figure out how to reach a live human).
posted by notsnot at 10:42 PM on August 22, 2004

Post the phone number, and let MetaFilter's unique brand of vigilante justice do the rest.
posted by Danelope at 10:48 PM on August 22, 2004

You might investigate the call trace feature on at least verizon lines (*57):

call trace

verizon unlawful call center

It seems that you have to be willing to prosecute the calls as "excessive", or they have to be real threats to bodily harm, etc, so I wouldn't use this lightly.
posted by advil at 11:54 PM on August 22, 2004

Knowing that it's from NJ makes me unafraid

Call me cynical, but take it seriously anyway if the content of the calls is worrisome. For all you know, that's the NJ cellular or VoiP number of someone standing outside your front door. *Not that you should assume that or panic at all*, but the point is you really don't have sufficient info at this point to determine whether a legitimate threat does/doesn't exist. So until it's been properly checked out, what's the harm in playing it safe. If you do want to talk to someone before morning, you could weigh whether it's worthwhile to dig up a 24 hour line for the FBI. That's not a call I'd make lightly, but on the other hand making interstate threats is a federal offense so it's not like it's unreasonable to ask for their opinion. While I doubt they'd care to open a case over a couple vague threats that sound vaguely prankish, they at least should be familiar enough with such situations to advise you better.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:59 AM on August 23, 2004

(in which case, some guy named Chris might buy you a beer later)

Notsnot, since your name is Chris, I'd take it pretty seriously. Is your first name listed in the phone book?
posted by dobbs at 1:13 AM on August 23, 2004

notsnot, on Goethe? Maybe it's a random prank.
posted by shoos at 1:28 AM on August 23, 2004

do you identify yourself on your answerphone message?
posted by triv at 2:27 AM on August 23, 2004

Response by poster: I *do* identify myself on the message, so the "creees" part isn't surprising. The number in NJ is actually *not* a cell, but a street number, up by the Palisades - and the name on the phone is something Eastern European.

And tris, what piece of info on my profile let you do that?
posted by notsnot at 5:09 AM on August 23, 2004

Response by poster: er, somehow I concatenated "shoos" and "triv". The phone calls kept on until a bit after one.
posted by notsnot at 5:11 AM on August 23, 2004

Where's the money lebowski
posted by angry modem at 5:30 AM on August 23, 2004

my best guess on this is that they're high/drunk and called random numbers, took your name and left an *amusing* message.

in england, the phone company can put a bug on the line regardless of the phone id being kept private, then the caller can be identified. now, not living in usa, i'm hoping they can do a similar thing for you too.

whilst it might be funny for these guys to call you, it's patently not funny for you. good luck.
posted by triv at 6:13 AM on August 23, 2004

Yes keep us updated or we will be the ones tracking you down in full Mefi response commando mode.

But as far as caller ID technology works, it is very not guaranteed by the phone companies. Basically if you have access to a T1 and that Linux program that acts as a call center you can change your phone number. I believe Linus Trovalds did this little trick on various TV shows.

I cannot remember if private numbers are not actually sent or are sent with a flag saying "don't show my number". I would assume it's not actually sent as I'm sure there'd be products to reveal a number otherwise.

Anyway if you haven't called the phone company already, don't be apprehensive. If it's at the point where you consider calling the phone company you should call it, they're helpful as long as you have a valid excuse. I had an individual I knew whose drug use couldn't keep up with his money supply and he'd feel the need to call me constantly at weird hours. I finally called the phone company and they were able to block his number. No real big deal.

The only recommendation I'd give is to NOT answer it. Because coming from a prankster point of view, if you don't answer it gets boring, as it takes a lot of work to dial a number every half hour ad infinitum.
posted by geoff. at 8:06 AM on August 23, 2004

This is really interesting to me, because a similar thing has been happening to me tonight- some guy has been calling me every three hours and threatening to "fuck me up bad".

What the cops told me is that the law requires ten calls over a 24-hour period in order to file a police report, but that may just be the law in California. My phone company is not very helpful, basically telling me that my only recourse is to change my phone number, since this guy keeps calling me from different phone numbers each time. Hopefully your phone company will be able to help you a little more.
posted by faustessa at 8:14 AM on August 23, 2004

I actually agree with amberglow--someone probably was watching Lebowski, smoked a j, and decided to have some fun at your exense. This hypothesis can be confirmed if they threaten the attachment of your "johnson" to your body, or threaten revenge for you somehow fucking a stranger in the ass. But that's just like, you know, my opinion, man.
posted by LionIndex at 8:53 AM on August 23, 2004

What I do with prank calls: not mad, not pissed, calmly explain that they are complete losers who have nothing better to do with their lives than phone people, whose dicks probably don't work, etc., throw in anything even mildly insulting. Calmly, as a statement of fact.
Works every time.
posted by signal at 11:09 AM on August 23, 2004

notsnot, Google + email --> first and last
first and last + --> location and number
additional confirmation using zip (from profile) at to see area code

It's pretty bad isn't it? All completely free and easy to do.
posted by shoos at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2004

When I was a kid, people used to say that the way to deal with prank callers was to get a really load, shrill whistle and blow it as hard as you can into the phone, deafening them.

I wonder though, if you do this, can the pranker successfully sue you for damaging his eardrums? I know there have been cases (or are these urban legends?) where burglars have sued (and won) because some nasty guard dogs has torn their legs off.
posted by grumblebee at 1:04 PM on August 23, 2004

Oh wait, that was me. Sorry about that, perfessor.
posted by pieoverdone at 2:00 PM on August 23, 2004

When I was a kid, people used to say that the way to deal with prank callers was to get a really load, shrill whistle and blow it as hard as you can into the phone, deafening them.

This has always seemed dubious advice to me. The phone system is probably not set up to transmit deafening volumes over the wire.
posted by kindall at 3:45 PM on August 23, 2004

IMHO, the best thing to do would be to calmly engage them in conversation, like such:

Them: "hey crees, we will fock you up"
You: "Thank you for the heads up. Can you please leave some specific details about where and when you will be fucking me up?"
Them: "..."
You: "Oh, and also, is there a dress code for this? I've never been fucked up before, so if you'd kindly give me some more information about fucking me up, I'd really appreciate it."

Most prankster jackasses aren't prepared to go beyond their initial jab. Show them they're out of their league.
posted by mkultra at 8:49 AM on August 24, 2004

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