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Creepy Phone Call - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
Creepy Phone Call
The phone rang, waking me up. Blearily I focused on the alarm clock: 3:50am. I answered it with a cautious hello.

I don't remember exactly what he said, as I was still waking up. But it was something like, "Sorry for waking you. I'm with the phone company, and all of the '399' extensions are down. You can go back to sleep, you just need to leave your phone off the hook while we fix it. When you hear a computer tone, you'll know we are finished, and you can hang your phone back up."

"Uh-huh...." Slowly I processed this strange information. "What company did you say you were with?"

"The, ah, with your cable company. You called us."

"No I didn't."

"Yes, the McGowans, is this the McGowan residence?" (well, some kinda name like that)

"No. No it's not."

"Oh. Well, then I'm very sorry for waking you," he said gravely, and he hung up. There might have been more words and details exchanged than I'm listing, but that is the general gist of the conversation.

He definitely never gave me his name, nor a company name. When I asked for the company's name, he seemed to get evasive and quickly said something that allowed him to end the conversation.

I hung up the phone, puzzled. I lay awake in bed for a long time, trying to figure it out. If he was telling the truth, and somebody had actually called him with a problem, then why would he apologize for waking me? It definitely sounded like some kind of scam, but what? Was there something he could do, if I left my phone line open? Somehow charge something to my phone bill? I certainly don't know of anything.

Maybe he was just calling to see if the house was empty, so he could rob it. But why the weird phone conversation, if that's the case? He could have just hung up when I said 'hello'. Or maybe he wanted my phone off the hook so I couldn't call 911 if he entered? I tensely listened for any noises downstairs while my brain mulled it over. I tried to remember if I'd remembered to lock my doors (I had).

I was relieved when a cat hopped up on my bed, because he could help listen. Cat alarm. If his sharp ears caught a noise, I knew he would jerk to attention, then probably run downstairs. Not to defend the house or anything of course, he's not that useful of a cat, but to greet the visitor. But if that happened, I would know there was a threat to respond to.

We didn't hear anything, and nothing more happened. Eventually, I relaxed enough to fall back asleep. But what was up with that?? I almost feel like the beginning of one of those annoying email forwards, where they warn you of some scam/urban legend/thievery/etc to watch out for.

Except that I don't know what he was trying to achieve! Anybody else heard of this? Any ideas? Talk about a weird and creepy way to wake up in the middle of the night.
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Comments
cynnerth From: cynnerth Date: November 24th, 2004 09:11 am (UTC) (Link)
That is definitely weird. A cable company wouldn't need a phone line. I'd be all creeped out.
greyyguy From: greyyguy Date: November 24th, 2004 09:15 am (UTC) (Link)
That is weird. I don't know what it could be for though pinging a house to see if it is empty does make sense. Though I don't know about taking the phone off it's hook. I can't imagine wanting to rob a place where I know there is a person home. They could be armed, or if nothing else be a witness.

Or it could have just been a really stupid prank.
hannunvaakuna From: hannunvaakuna Date: November 24th, 2004 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)
i've gotten calls like that before - i think it's some sort of scam where they can use your line to call long distance, etc. i've always hung up on them.
specialagentm From: specialagentm Date: November 24th, 2004 09:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, this doesn't sound like any of the particular scams I've heard of before, but it most likely is something like that. Calling to see if the house is empty doesn't make sense... you could drive by the house to see that, and even if you called and got an answering machine, some people screen calls.

So, most likely, it was a random attempt to scam your phone bill somehow. Creepy, though!
renniekins From: renniekins Date: November 24th, 2004 10:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, at night my house looks unoccupied. All the lights are off, and the car is in the garage.... But yeah, it still doesn't really make sense.

The only other thing I've thought of is if somebody was conducting something illegal AND accidentally called a wrong number.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: November 24th, 2004 10:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah? That's good to know; I've never heard of a call quite like that before. Thanks!
From: nicegeek Date: November 24th, 2004 09:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Strange...did his number show up on your caller ID?
renniekins From: renniekins Date: November 24th, 2004 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought of that too, but not until I was typing this post at work this morning. Will have to look when I get home....
encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: November 24th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC) (Link)
After your followup, you might want to pass the info on to your local police.
From: eviljohn Date: November 24th, 2004 09:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Google is your friend

Could be this.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: November 24th, 2004 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)

LiveJournal is your friend

I couldn't think of anything to google actually, maybe just because the conversation details are so fuzzy and surreal in my mind. But I knew I'd have techies and information addicts on my friends list that could hopefully come up with suggestions!

Interesting. Of coures I know better than to give out any financial information on a cold call, but I suppose somebody could have gotten something some other way. I'll have to take a careful look at my accounts this evening.

Thanks for the link!
From: eviljohn Date: November 24th, 2004 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: LiveJournal is your friend

Curiosity got me. I just goggled "scam leave phone off hoook".

Do you have call forwarding? If not I'd guess that the scammer dialed the wrong number.
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: November 24th, 2004 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did you star *69 to find out who called or will call display do that for you?

Then you can hit the reverse directory to find out where the call came from.

I often spend the $1.50 just to satisfy my curiosity.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: November 24th, 2004 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
(for my own notes, the email I just sent to SBC)

I received a phone call early this morning at around 3:50am from a man who told me he was with the "phone company". He never gave me his name or company name. He told me there was a problem with all the "399" numbers, and I needed to leave my phone off the hook for awhile. When I heard a computer beeping, I could hang up again.

I asked him, "What company did you say you were with?" He avoided the question, claimed he had the wrong number, and hung up.

Is this a known telephone scam? Have you had any similar reports? The number reported as "unknown" on my caller ID, but perhaps you can find out more details from your end.

The only reasons I can think of for this is that he was trying to do some kind of illegal phone activity, or he was checking if I was home in preparation for a break-in.

Obviously I don't like either possibility very much. I have been thinking perhaps I should contact the police, but I wanted to talk to you first. Your customer service line was closed by the time I made it home from work today, which is why I'm emailing.

Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated!
nishar From: nishar Date: November 24th, 2004 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
About 12 years ago a groups of friends of mine used to break into people's homes for a living. They always called to see if anyone was there.
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