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VINSON: Red Alert! ‘Phone Spoofing,’ Read for your own safety

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If I knew that some mentally-deranged maniac was totin’ a .44 magnum handgun and threatening to blow your head clean off your shoulders, you’d want me to alert you to this, correct?

Well, the following, in its own high-tech way, is just as frightening.

On Jan. 5, I received a call from a close friend, and it was obvious that he was upset.

“Mike,” he said, “something just happened to me, and I need you to help me put it in writing. I feel an ethical obligation to get this out there!”

Here’s what happened, readers, on Jan. 5: In a matter of approximately 20 minutes (he has the exact times), my friend received four calls from unknown telephone numbers, which he answered.

All the callers on the other end were male, completely unknown to my friend, and they wanted to know what my friend was doing calling them.

They told my friend that his cell phone number had showed up on their caller ID’s. He told them he hadn’t called any of them.

Of particular interest, one of the male callers, totally irate, asked my friend what he meant by calling him, cussing him, and, still, threatening him with violence.

Baffled, my friend assured the male caller that he had no earthly idea what he was talking about, and the caller hung up, unconvinced.

 Unnerved to the point of being sick, my friend called Verizon Wireless, who, in turn, connected him with Verizon’s legal department.

He told Verizon’s legal department what just had happened. Here’s what Verizon’s legal department told him there is a new telephone application available (actually in the form of a prepaid card, best I understand) called “Phone Spoofing.”

Verizon stated to my friend that they, Verizon, just had become aware of it — that, in fact, it was so new that the FCC/Federal Communications Commission had not had the time to outlaw it.

Verizon further told my friend that his situation was the very “first” they had encountered.

More troublesome, however, is that Verizon told him that their “hands were tied,” that for the time being this “Phone Spoofing” was legal, and all they could do for him was change his phone number.

So, John Q. Public, here’s what you’re up against.

If someone harbors a grudge against you, wants to cause you misery for whatever reason, your nemesis can utilize this “Phone Spoofing” technique and use it to manipulate the number that shows up on your or someone else’s caller/text I.D. For example: Ms. Y absolutely hates Mr. X, who not only jilted her for a trophy wife years back, but now has three lovely children and earns a seven-figure salary with a major corporation—it’s payback time!

So, Ms. Y has acquired “Phone Spoofing” capability.

She then enlists the help of a male accomplice to call Mr. X’s boss — CEO of the corporation — and tell him what a greedy, back-stabbing, pontificating SOB he is!

The CEO looks at his caller ID, and, sure enough, the number belongs to once-prized employee Mr. X — fired!

Upping the ante, this kind of high-tech availability could lead to even worse. Someone taunts an individual using someone else’s number, via “Phone Spoofing,” and the one being taunted goes over the edge, confronts the supposed caller (or texter), and stomps the living daylights out of him … maybe someone needlessly ends up in the morgue.

The potential malice/injury here is endless.

Sure, you have lackadaisical boneheads who have nothing better to do than spend their day harassing well-intended folks, but what about those cerebral, highly-capable types who could use this “Phone Spoofing” as a viable weapon to threaten national/world security?

Lesson learned: Just because you have received a call/text from a certain telephone number doesn’t necessarily means there is any validity to it.

It very well could be a malicious attempt by some psychotic imposter.
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Meat & Potatoes
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Mike Vinson, Phone spoofing, Voices
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Members Opinions:
January 16, 2011 at 12:22pm
Wow,this is insane. The way society is today,someone WILL get hurt from this.... This reaally scares me. i used to work for the tennessee dept of corrections,so i fear i COULD experience this, first hand.
January 16, 2011 at 4:42pm
Wow, this is some wild stuff I can't believe this is going on. Great Article! I can't wait to find out more about this.
January 16, 2011 at 5:48pm
I am the victim of which Mike is writing. I have known him for many years. I went to Mike Vinson first with this story because I thought he was the best writer to help me get this out to the public. He is a superb talent who marches to his own beat. Mike wrote the story exactly as I told it to him.

After this incident I spoke with one of my local police investigators. He had no knowledge of this technology but was extremely interested and concerned with the magnitude of malice it could have on society. I am assisting them in an ongoing investigation in an attempt to identify who did this and why!

I hope this serves as an historical, groundbreaking story in terms of protecting the public against the endless damage causing abilities that could result from it’s misuse.
I see nothing good that could come from this technology and hope the FCC is prompt to initiate legislation to outlaw it and prosecute the designers and vendors thereof. I urge all readers please tell everyone you know, that you can no longer trust your caller/text ID. Those days are gone!

I would like to thank the Murfreesboro Post and it’s staff for having the moral and professional fortitude to publish this story!
January 17, 2011 at 2:26pm
This really isn't that new. It's been around for several years. It's commonly used by bill collectors and telemarketers. I guess the less sophisticated con artists are now picking up on it.
January 18, 2011 at 9:15am
John Q. Public, you had better take notice of artcles like this. As the old people used to say this article is a 'Sign of The Times'. To songwriterdad, I hope the authorities find out who did this to you. And Vinson, keep "marching" to your own beat, that's why I read you every week!
January 18, 2011 at 3:10pm
It's amazing how many multi billion doll companies use the word I CAN"T, We CAN"T!
The fact is they could. If they changed their words they could change a lot of people's lives.
It's a shame so many people spend a lot of time, trying to figure out how to screw up someone's lives instead of helping.
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