UPDATE: A Big Break in ‘Calls From a Stranger’ Story

More answers and more questions about our mysterious phone spammer.

We just received a call from Ben who is a sort of switch conductor over at Metro PCS, which owns the number 954-678-8026 on which these Spanish spam calls were delivered.

Ben gives us the straight dope… after the jump…

Metro PCS is a pre-paid cellphone program which doesn’t require customers to give up their name or address in order to enroll.

At its peak, there were over 100 calls per minute being returned to the number. The scammers call up people and tell them they’ve won a free phone and they just need their social security number to confirm the prize. With a social security number, there’s a wide array of identity theft based crimes they could conduct. These criminals only wanted to talk to live people. The Spanish message was part of the end call script on their autodialer.

Switch conductor Ben said the scammers have an autodialer hooked up to hundreds of lines, dialing phone numbers at random. This is the fifth number MetroPCS shut down in a month.

Ben says they killed the account last Thursday at 3pm. They noticed a suspcious amount of returned calls tying up the routers and shut down the number shortly thereafter. As the calls don’t actually go through their cellphone network, and only use the number, there’s nothing more they can do.

The scammers sign up for Metro PCS just to get a phone number, which they then plug into the Primary Rate Interface or PRI, the technical name for Caller ID data. Since about 10 years ago, the PRI has been programmable from the user side. The intent was for businesses to make individual’s extension numbers viewable when calling out from the business. However, this also makes it easy to spoof a number.

The name George Martinez is most likely a fake name. All the calls have been traced back to addresses up and down Bickell avenue in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, however, these are nearly undoubtedly fake addresses as well.

If they could identify the scammer by name and address, MetroPCS would prosecute.

Should you receive unwanted marketing calls, no matter how many or how frequently, report it to the police. Even one is illegal. Secondly, report it to your cellphone company. As always, look a gift horse in the mouth and never give personal information over the phone.

Recently, Verizon has started a campaign of suing illegal Florida telemarketers.

Previously: Calls From a Stranger thread.

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