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any ideas how a stranger in the street got my number?

51 replies

yescheese · 05/09/2020 22:15

Hi all,

Bit of a tech related mystery I'm hoping you may be able to help me solve!

On my way home this evening, I ignored a bloke in the street trying to talk to me (not in a rude way, it was a 'trying to pick up' approach, not passing the time of day!).

Thought little of it then got home, say, 20 mins later to a WhatsApp message i think is from him, vaguely describing himself, saying he would like to meet me later.

He didn't say his name or use mine or sound as though he had recognised me so I don't think he was an old acquaintance.

I have now blocked and reported him.

None of my friends, including techie sorts and a couple of software engineers have any idea how he might have got my number!

my Bluetooth and tethering were off and it was very dark so I don't think he could've sneaked a photo and done face recognition (plus my number shouldn't be searchable online).

Anyone got any ideas?? I am more interested than anything!

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HeyAllYouCoolCatsAndKittenz · 05/09/2020 22:17

how strange op hope you get to the bottom of this...

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Anotherlovelybitofsquirrel · 05/09/2020 22:17

No ideas OP but that's very worrying. Hope you find out.

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Legoandloldolls · 05/09/2020 22:19

I was going to say bluetooth, but if your sure it was off?

More worryingly is he stalking you and knew your number before today? I think maybe log this as a non emergency just incase? But definitely if he pops up again

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Gilead · 05/09/2020 22:19

Dd says possibly snapchat if you have it?

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Legoandloldolls · 05/09/2020 22:19

Is your mobile number on your FB?

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Smallsteps88 · 05/09/2020 22:20

Possibly he is someone that vaguely knows you and was trying to engage you when he recognised you then did some googling or asking around friends/acquaintances for your name or number?

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c3pu · 05/09/2020 22:21

I work in IT, and the only explanation I can think of is it's a massive coincidence - guy approached you in the street, and then a wrong number sent you a message (or it was someone who already had your number and you didn't recognise them).

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yescheese · 05/09/2020 22:21

Thanks all, luckily I don't think he saw where I live which is one good thing!

No, I've never had Snapchat, Gilead

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yescheese · 05/09/2020 22:23

My phone no is on FB but it is set to 'only me' who can see it (i can't seem to remove it altogether)

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yescheese · 05/09/2020 22:30

Thanks c3pu I keep wondering whether it was someone who might have my number but his approach just didn't sound that way and in his message he said 'it's the (physical characteristic) guy' rather than 'Hi, it's Dave from the gym, nice to bump into you' or similar which I would have expected.

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ASchuylerSister · 05/09/2020 22:32

Have you left your number at a pub recently for track and trace?

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ShalomToYouJackie · 05/09/2020 22:37

I don't have the answer for you but I had the exact same thing happen to me a few years ago.

A weird man kept chatting me up in a pub garden whilst smoking a joint (him not me) and getting v close to me, wouldn't leave me alone. I said thanks but no thanks and moved inside. A few days later someone texts me saying hi it's X, I said who? He then described himself, said I met you at X pub on Saturday but then described me completely different and got my name wrong.

I definitely did NOT give him my number. When I questioned him he blocked me. So so weird.

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yescheese · 05/09/2020 23:07

Aschulyer not for a couple of weeks tbh.

Jackie how weird!!! could one of your friends have given him your number for a joke? obv not the world's funniest joke if they did!

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CarolVordermansArse · 05/09/2020 23:07

There is software that can be used to clone your phone without touching it.

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KindergardenCentre · 05/09/2020 23:16

I've no idea, but if you don't find out, there's a podcast, Reply All, that investigates all sorts of interesting techy stuff.

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CrumbsThatsQuick · 05/09/2020 23:19

Very strange....

Tell us a bit more about the approach in the street, what happened? What did he say? How long did it last? Where were you?

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hastingsmua1 · 05/09/2020 23:25

Guessing you don’t recognise him but he must recognise you from somewhere

I get randoms messaging me, sometimes my friends give my number out (🙄), sometimes it’s a obscure person from the past eg met at a freshers night in 2015 and haven’t spoken since yet they still have my number, or they took my number from socials etc.

Once I put a SpareRoom ad up with my contact number, but had men asking me out on datesConfused

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hastingsmua1 · 05/09/2020 23:27

Also as you’re not 100% sure the guy you saw in person and the WhatsApp sender are the same person, I wouldn’t dwell on this

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hastingsmua1 · 05/09/2020 23:27

Did he have a photo up?

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haveagoodyear · 05/09/2020 23:37

Wouldn't the OP know if someone was coming her phone though?

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haveagoodyear · 05/09/2020 23:37

Cloning her phone

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yescheese · 05/09/2020 23:39

no photo or name, just the blank icon thing and 'online'. yes, totally agree it's not one to worry about or dwell on, I was just wondering how on earth he did it!!

The spare room ad reminds me of a friend, she advertised for a caretaker for her business, interviewed a man but didn't pick him. To this day he texts now and again asking her out!

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Browzingss · 05/09/2020 23:43

I think the simple and most plausible explanation is that it wasn’t the same man who messaged you. Occam’s Razor

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BashfulClam · 05/09/2020 23:56

That so weird

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CoffeeDay · 06/09/2020 00:01

Even though he didn't use your name is there any chance he might have seen that somehow? Maybe something fell out of your bag, he's actually a friend of a friend, or spotted you on another occasion where you had identifiable name tags/personal details visible? Could he have served you at a store or restaurant? If he knows your name then it may not be a far jump to find a number. E.g. Many employees have access to customer databases where names and numbers are stored together. Every online shop you ordered from has a copy of your name & number, and is easily accessible to anyone working there.

Are you part of any large group chats on Whatsapp? Phone numbers are also visible and accessible to everyone and he might be there himself or share a mutual friend with someone in a group chat with you. It could be possible he knows who you are but rather than introduce himself by basically admitting he's been "stalking" you, he tried to chat you up as a stranger to make it seem more casual. Then after being rebuffed he tried to use a number which he already had from mutual friends.

I know you blocked the number but you might want to try searching it as well just to see if you can find out more about him. It might reveal that he really is a work contact or had some distant connection with you which explains how he got the number. Still creepy AF though, can't believe anyone would give out friend's numbers to random men in the current age.

This might not help for OP's situation but Whatsapp itself is actually a "search engine" for phone numbers, which I was surprised to find out about. The search box at the top of the chat list also works for any number. A while back, a friend was being mistakenly accused of being a scammer on Gumtree and all they had was a name (hers) and an anonymous phone number (not hers). She entered the number into Whatsapp and it displayed a different user with a distinct profile picture. We recognised the picture from a distant friend's Instagram account. If there's a profile picture, Google Reverse Search might also provide results.

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