Lost Cellphone Story, Harassment

The Suprise – Last night after my brother’s wedding (which was great btw — future post) we went out to eat after the reception for a 2am breakfast at Perkins. Apparently then my phone slid out of my pocket and got left behind at the booth, then the next early-morning customer likely found it… and began to abuse it extensively. He made his way through calling perhaps everyone in my address book on my phone and left them terrible messages early Sunday morning or harassed them over the phone personally, eventually pretending to be me after finding out my name from the conversations. Almost all of my family and friends in town for the wedding received the nasty messages, and were a bit shocked to receive them of course. I don’t think many had even checked yet to see that they were supposedly from “me”.

My parents received the messages as well, and that morning we worked to get the phone back and get it disconnected. Calling my cellular service providor (Alltel) from their number in the phone book and the 1800-Alltel9 number, all I got was an automated machine with no option to speak with a person for technical support until regular office hours resumed on Monday. I found this perhaps the most frustrating and disturbing, even more so than the harassing calls being made on my behalf all morning, was the feeling of not being able to do anything in response. (Assuming everyone who knows me would be able to immediately conclude these calls were not from me since it is completely out of character for me and voice differences.)

Mediation Attempt – My father called on his cellphone and spoke with the prankster. He wanted $60 to return the phone, I conceeded to $50, but he said he was having “way too much fun” and hung up. By then I finally knew I was dealing with a very destructive person without a conscious and needed to “do something” besides waiting to speak with Alltel on Monday. I made plans then for a final effort to end this peacefully, and make it as easy as possible for the prankster-criminal. The message I prepared for him was:

Listen carefully. On 72nd St. across from the Perkins, there is a hotel called (name withheld). You have until 4pm to return the phone to the front desk for your finders reward – no questions asked. This is your last chance to walk away scott-free, with $40 cash in your pocket, and that warm fuzzy feeling of doing the right thing.

Criminal Harassment – At 10:30 now, I hoped this mediation attempt would provide enough incentive to end the rampage that began before 7am in the morning. I relayed the same message onto my father should this prankster-criminal call him back. I called the prankster to send the instructions at 10:50 but he did not pick up. Calling again at 11:10, I found out he must have turned the phone off finally, as it immediately went to my voicemail. Then I entered my PIN to find one message left from the Plattsmouth police department, telling me to ‘stop making harassing phone calls’. OK – now this has gotten serious. I promptly returned the call to the police and explained the situation. Once they understood that I could not get in touch with Alltel, they went to work, and 10 minutes later I was on the phone with an Alltel technical support representative who quickly had my phone disconnected from the cellular network. Talking with her, I found out the 24hour tech support number is 1800-Alltel1. This is good to know! (Just found it online also)

ConclusionI’m terribly sorry that this harassment happened to so many friends and family (previously it was my mothers phone – so full of numbers), and once I get a list of all the numbers dialed from Alltel tomorrow, I’ll call to apologize to each person personally. Hopefully this will help me rebuild my address book (which I had been meaning to copy down all summer) after the loss of my phone. I am keeping notes and will pursue any leads to find out who this prankster is – as I would like to see justice done.

On one good note though, I look forward to a newer replacement phone since this one was having many technical failures as well (LCD turn off sporadically on flip phone) for me over the summer. One note to take from this, is to always use the keylock functionality to prevent pranksters abusing your phone at your expense!

3 Responses to “Lost Cellphone Story, Harassment”

  1. Jeff Says:

    If possible, keep recordings of this guy’s voice as left on friends’ and family’s phones. Alltell should know which cell towers picked up the signal, you can see if he roamed anywhere during his pranking. Call Perkins and ask the waittress/waiter to recall who sat there after you, and see if they paid by credit card. Ask if there were security cams — call quick because they’re on short 2-3 day loops. If nothing else, at least see how many sausages this prick ordered — it’ll help establish a partial profile.

  2. Brian Says:

    Thanks Jeff – that’s some good ideas. I hope they at Perkins might still be able to help, it’s worth pursuing for justice (I know what a fan of doing something out of ‘principle’ you are) but could take up a lot of time/energy too. I’m working to get a subpoena of my call activity for that day – not normally releasable until I get my billing statement. Crazy – huh?! (yet you can see your online banking activity within minutes!) I was hoping he called someone not in my addressbook by chance, that might be a lead.

  3. Eric Says:

    Too bad he wasn’t as stupid as this guy http://wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,68668,00.html

    Well, he was as stupid, but your service is with alltell and not sprint..

Leave a Reply