Interesting Coincidences

What do you normally think when you get a sales call and the person on the other end says he is responding to a request you made online? Many people would respond that the person made a mistake, ask to be taken out of their database and forget about it. That’s what I did.

What if you got two similar calls in the same hour?

What if you received 32 such calls in a single day?

What if those calls continued day after day?

That happened to me. And that was only the beginning.

A slow beginning

On Saturday November 19, 2005 around 5:00pm I received two phone calls to my cell phone from companies that had received my name, address and phone number with a claim that I was interested in home and vehicle lending. At the time I thought it was an odd but simple mistake, let them know that I had not made any such requests and asked them to remove me from their databases.

When I arrived home I found 30 emails in my in box for things ranging from a membership to the Poet’s Workshop on through car loans and requests for contact lenses. It was clear that someone had used my personal information to subscribe me to a number of opt-in style mailing lists and service requests.

That evening and on Sunday November 20th I received 35 more spam emails similar to the first set and a few more sales calls on my home and cell phones.

Opening of the flood gates

On Monday November 21st things changed for the worse. At 9:00am I received the first of what quickly became a steady stream of phone calls on my work, home and cell lines and by 10:30am it was clear that I was going to have to spend a significant amount of time on the phone gathering information to track down who was doing this to me and to safeguard my credit account. I was receiving calls from questionable lending institutions, equally questionable universities, credit repair shops, diabetic supply houses. (Them: "we’d like to send you a free diabetic meter", me: "No thanks, I’m not diabetic. Where did you get my contact information?") And so on and on.

I went home and proceeded to answer call after call and question each person so that I could find out as much information as possible about the person that signed me up for these products and services. I also spent time searching the Internet for information on the companies involved as I found out about them and eventually identified LowerMyBills, CoolSavings and ZipSearch as the sources of most of the calls.

IP address identification

Luckily for me some of the companies were willing to help track the person responsible and halfway through the day I had an IP address of the user (67.164.xx.190) and the time of day the fraudulent requests were made to a few of the companies.

With the IP address in hand I set about finding as much information as I could about the person and what I should do in response. Tracing the IP address revealed the user was a Comcast customer in Oregon and thanks to my Google Desktop cache I found that I had contact with that IP address several times in the last two months.

IP address contacts

There were several emails I had received, blog comments posted to my site and web log entries which were traced back the IP address and are described below.

  • Sept 12, 2005 23:04 – The IP address was found in a comment posted to my blog from "Dr. Steve Prescott at steve…hotmail.com." The content of the posting was:

"Thank you for sharing your experience Michael. I found to be an interesting read. I also purchased a long life battery from batterygeek.net however my experience was quite different than yours. The battery I purchased from them gave my laptop an additional 12 hours of run time per charge which far exceeded my expectations. Additionally, the battery I received is very small in size and durable which makes it ideal for my frequent travels. They also included some extra nifty free gifts which I thought added a nice touch. My experience of the customer service level at batterygeek was quite different from yours. I found the customer service that I received from both Sean and Melissa at batterygeek.net to be exceptionally good. They both responded very fast to all my questions and concerns on three seperate occassions and I also received amazingly fast same day shipping. Personally, I would not hesitate to refer this company and thier products to anyone. Cheers, Dr. Steve Prescott."

I attempted to contact him via email on Nov 23, 2005 2:50pm and the email was returned undeliverable.

  • Sept 15, 2005 1:04 through Sept 23, 2005 14:19 – The IP address was found in the headers of seven emails from Sean Murray of BatteryGeek.

His initial email was sent to me in response to my first review of the BatteryGeek battery pack that I bought last June and some additional reviews I had posted to other sites on the web such as Amazon.com. The general content of other emails is covered in my follow-up review.

  • Oct 10, 2005 3:53 – The IP address was found in a comment posted to my blog from "Susan” at www.jensense.com. The content of the posting was:

"Your picture sure is ugly. LOL."

I contacted the owner of jensense.com on Nov 23, 2005 at 5:16pm and she confirmed that she did not post the comment.

  • Oct 10, 2005 4:02 – The IP address was found in a comment posted to my blog from "Jenny” at www.jennycum.com. The content of the posting was:

YOU SURE ARE UGLY."

A check of DNS records shows that the domain is bogus.

  • November 19th at 12:08:19 -8:00gmt the user at the IP address came back and spent much of the day trolling dragonseye.com such as my blog and other personal pages. The user also downloaded a PDF copy of my resume which had my address, home phone number, company name and cell number. The user’s last access on the 19th is at 21:49:14 -8:00gmt.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Published by

Michael Harrison

Husband, Programmer, Irish dancer, tinkerer, astronomer, layabout (as much as possible)

8 thoughts on “Interesting Coincidences”

  1. Seems like a good reason to avoid batterygeek.net. Sucks that you had to go through this, but at least the rest of us are warned away from such a company.

  2. If you’re referring to Mr. Kendrick’s refusal to verify the posting IP address I don’t really think it’s going to hurt him or his site much and I don’t know how much it should in the long run.
    He was getting money from a business and it wasn’t in his best (short term) interest to make sure his supporter was on the up and up but then his recent TUAW posts show again that he jumps to conclusions so what can you expect?

  3. Something similar is happening to me. Someone keeps inputting my name and adress into the Zipsearch data base for mortgage brokers. I turned down a harassing mortgage company and other various telemarketers, and wonder if one of them put my info in. They always list a bogus or wrong email address, so I know it is not someone that has met me over the net, or any of my friends playing a joke on me. How did you get the IP address? Zipsearch claims that someone must be repeatedly doing this as they do not “keep” a database of names. Therefore offering me little to no help.

    1. I was lucky enough to both run into someone at the companies in question who was willing to get me an IP address and I also had emails I’d received from the perp that used the offending IP. Without at least two sources and one having a name you probably won’t ever find out who’s doing it to you. Keep digging though.

  4. This is a follow-up to my last review of BatteryGeek.On September 15th Sean from BatteryGeek contacted me about a review of his battery pack I’d posted on Amazon. He was "painfully disappointed" about it and wasn’t sure where the ball was dr

  5. Back in May 2005 I purchased an Averatec C3500 tablet PC. It was a bit of an impulse buy but I was looking for another model from Averatec that had everything the C3500 has but no tablet and after getting a demo I decided to buy one. I’m pretty happy wi

  6. While looking through my server logs I found that the person from this story is still periodically checking my site, so I did another search on the web for stories talking about Battery Geek and Dragon’s Eye.
    Even the Better Business Bureau isn’t fond

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.