Vitriol and observations from an extremely angry little man.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cyber-crimes of our times!

I recently got a text message from a number I didn't recognize, in the 209 area code (Stockton/Tracy/Modesto):

WHOS THIS?M!SS!N H!M


With some trepidation, thinking it might be some sort of SMS spammer trying to verify good, working numbers, I replied, "Hello, do I know you?"

To which they responded,

U TEXT. ABOUT A PACIFIER. DID I SEND YOU A PIC OF MY BABY? M!SS!N H!M


Why would anybody, let alone me, be sending anybody else a text about a pacifier? Very weird. Maybe this person was trying to get free baby supplies on Craigslist?

Who knows. Modesto is a hotbed of insanity, and Tracy's pretty weird too. I was wandering around there one time, and stumbled across a street named "Gandy Dancer Drive," which I think is just about the fruitiest street name ever. On the plus side, it did prompt my friend to Google "gandy dancer" for me.

So now I know all about gandy dancers.

Next I found myself in a conversation which began with:


nice. whos number is this. i know its haylee but the number?


It seems this person received a picture message from my phone number. Only I never sent such a message, and don't know the person.

I speculated that somebody had used their cellular service provider's Web site to send this person an MMS message from their computer, and mistakenly entered my number in the "from" field, but that's not the case, 'cause she told me she got the same pic five minutes later from her friend Haylee's phone.

I therefore guessed that AT&T's system was just randomly messing up and making it look like other people's text and multimedia messages were originating from my phone. Good thing I've got an unlimited messaging and data plan!

Anyway, this is a nice way of meeting articulate, young girls. Her name was Lily. She asked me how old I was. I answered truthfully, and never heard back from her.

"LOL," as you youngsters like to say.

Within a day or two of this interaction, I received more texts from various people in the 916 (Sacramento) area asking, "Who's this?"

I wrote back explaining that if they happened to receive weird texts or pics from my number, it's 'cause somebody seems to be spoofing my number. That led to the following response:


Yeah. A picture of a small weiner. Who is this tho. Do I know you or are you just sending small weiner pics to random numbers.


Good grief! I suppose some people would be disturbed by this turn of events. At this point, I began to think that I should proactively contact AT&T so there would be a record of my protesting my innocence, like, before they received a bunch of complaints and canceled my service.

So I went to AT&T's site, clicked "contact us" and sent the following message:

Numerous people in the 916 and 209 area codes have been receiving SMS and MMS messages which appear to have come from my phone number. I did NOT send these messages, and the MMS messages contain obscene pictures. Either somebody is "spoofing" my number in the "from" field, or your system is messing up. Please help!


Which led to...

An AT&T Online Specialist has been assigned to your case and will respond to your concern within 2 business days; however, our response may be sooner. We will do our best to exceed your expectations.


And then:



Thank you for taking the time to e-mail AT&T because someone is using your number to send SMS and MMS with obscene photos. My name is (name omitted), and I am happy to help you.

I do apologize that someone is using your number to send SMS and MMS. I want to let you know that our system is fine and everything is running fine. I want to let you know that cloning is not applicable with out [SIC] technology do [SIC] to our phone [SIC] use a SIM card and do not send you're [SIC] your information with calls or text messages. I want to let you know that there may be technology out there that other [SIC] may be able to just randomly choose a number to use as their caller ID and we have no control over that.

Here is some information that you can use to help protect your phone from spying:
? Do not allow your cell phone out of your possession.
? Enable the device keypad lock and periodically change the lock code.
? Enable the SIM pin lock and periodically change the code.
? Enable and periodically change the voicemail password.
? Don't leave the Bluetooth feature on all the time. Only enable it when needed.
? If the device has onboard anti-virus software, perform periodic device scans. (Motorola Q Windows Mobile has McAfee Virus Scan).
? If you believe someone has downloaded spy software to your device: Perform a master reset and master clear.

I see that you have had your AT&T account open since at least 02/23/2005. We definitely appreciate you choosing us as your wireless carrier! I hope that you are enjoying your service thus far and hope that you continue to enjoy the great service AT&T is committed to provide.

We are here to assist you, Bren. I encourage you to visit us at www.att.com/wireless often to view your monthly account statements, make payments and shop for new products and services. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve you. Should you have additional concerns or questions about this issue please reply to this email. I hope you will recommend us to family and friends. Once again my name is (name omitted). If you need to contact us again regarding a new issue please send us another email via the contact link through your online account.

Sincerely,

(name omitted)
AT&T
Online Customer Care Professional


Awesome! AT&T, thank you SO MUCH for so promptly solving my problem!

So I wrote back, asking them to please flag my account and make a notation that I'd contacted them regarding this. I also asked them which law-enforcement agency I should contact, and whether they have a specific department or phone number they recommend calling in cases such as this. They wrote back saying...

Dear Bren,

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail AT&T regarding which police agency you should contact regarding your situation. My name is Joe Blow, and I am happy to help you with your inquiry.

I can definitely understand your concern with this matter. My only suggestion is to go to your local police agency and start from there. There is no further information that AT&T is provided with in this circumstance.

I hope that the information provided has been helpful. Should you have additional concerns or questions about this issue, please reply to this email. If you need to contact us again regarding a new issue, please send us another email via the contact link through your online account. Again my name is Heywood Jablome and I thank you for being a valued AT&T customer since before 2005. We will do our best to ensure that your wireless experience is a success.

I encourage you to visit our web site (www.att.com/wireless) often to view current and previous monthly statements, make payments and to shop for new product and service offerings.


Sincerely,

Joe Schmoe
AT&T
Online Customer Care Professional


To which I responded,

Thanks Joe,

You did not, however, address the first question in my previous e-mail. Here again, is that question:

"First of all, can you please make a notation or "flag" in my account
to make it clear that I've contacted AT&T regarding this? My concern
is that if any of the victims who've received these obscene messages
were to complain to AT&T or to the police, I wouldn't want my account
with you to be jeopardized or my service cut off."


Kind Regards,

Bren


Which generated the following enormously helpful response:

Dear Bren,

Thank you for contacting AT&T because you would like us to notate or flag your account to make it clear that you have contacted AT&T in regards [SIC] the messages that are believed to have been sent from you [SIC] device. I understand that you are concerned that if any of the victims who received these obscene messages were to complain to AT&T or the police, you would not wish for your account to be jeopardized or have your service cut off. My name is (irrelevant, because each time you write back, the reply from us is authored by a different nameless, faceless, indifferent employee who is not empowered to solve your problem) and I am here to assist you with your concern.

Every interaction that is had via telephone or e-mail is noted in your account. However, per your request, I have notated the information you have provided in your account. If you are concerned that legal action may be taken by the receiving parties, you may wish to contact your local law enforcement regarding this issue.

This is a friendly reminder that you currently have a past due balance of $ 186.68 that was due on 10/15/2009. Once your account is past due, it is susceptible to immediate interruption, a late fee of 1.5% of the outstanding balance may apply, and there may be a potential $36.00 restoral [SIC] fee assessed.

To make a payment online:

1. From the myWireless account home page, under the bill & payments section click on the make a payment button.
2. Enter the payment amount.
3. Select the payment method.
4. Confirm your payment details and select Submit. Note: By clicking the "submit" button, the customer is agreeing to the terms and conditions.

AT&T will begin charging a payment administrative fee of $5.00 for customers who opt to not utilize self-service payment options to process a payment and instead make a payment with a phone representative or store sales representative.

You can even make a payment by dialing *PAY, then "Call."

To avoid suspension of your account, you may want to consider setting up a payment arrangement. This will allow you time to make your payment and will prevent your account from going in to a suspended status until the payment arrangement is due. If you would like to set up a payment arrangement, please call our customer care department at 1-800-331-0500 or 611 from your cell phone. The hours of operations are Monday through Friday 7:00am to 10:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9:00 am to 7:00 pm MST.

Mr. Bren, I hope that the information provided has been helpful and has addressed all of your questions. Should you have additional concerns or questions about this issue please reply to this email. If you need to contact us again regarding a new issue please send us another email via the contact link through your online account. Again, my name is (completely immaterial, because, as previously stated, you will not be hearing from me again), and I thank you for being a valued AT&T customer since at least February of 2005. We will do our best to ensure that your wireless experience is a success.

I encourage you to visit our web site (www.att.com/wireless) often to view current and previous monthly statements, make payments and to shop for new product and service offerings.

Sincerely,

(Your most recent customer service one-night-stand. Was it good for you?)

AT&T
Online Customer Care Professional


And then there was a link to a survey I could fill out to let them know how satisfied I am with this interaction.

The bill's been paid, by the way.



I clicked the link so I could fill out the satisfaction survey. That led me to the following page:

Maintenance In Progress

AT&T is continually working to improve our internet site for our customers. As part of this ongoing effort, we are currently doing maintenance. We apologize for this inconvenience and ask that you please try back again later.
akm1

© 2008 AT&T Knowledge Ventures. All rights reserved. AT&T and the AT&T logo are trademarks of AT&T Knowledge Ventures



I've been advised by somebody whose father works for the FBI that I should phone the FBI office in Los Angeles and not even bother with local police, as they really aren't equipped to handle this sort of thing.

Somewhere out there, whoever's doing this to me is blissfully unaware that the only thing standing between them and federal cops is my own shocking degree of laziness.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment

Followers