DENVER -- Stayc Lafean just opened her brand new company, Front Range Towing and Recovery in Colorado Springs a few months ago. So, you can imagine her delight when right away the phones were ringing off the hook.
Stayc recalls, “I can tell you how many times I just wanted to throw the phone over the cliff …ha ha ha.”
However, there was just one problem ... no one was calling to have their car towed. “We just started getting hundreds of phone calls wondering about time shares,” Stayc said.
Unbeknownst to Stayc, she’d been spoofed. Telemarketers, randomly using her number instead of theirs, when they robo-called people trying to sell condos. “I kept going, 'you have the wrong number, you have the wrong number.' They’d repeat the number and I’d be like 'I’m sorry, you wrote it down wrong.'”
There are phone apps for "caller ID spoofing" all over the internet. Making your phone calls 100 percent untraceable, totally fun, and totally legal, they say.
Here’s how it works. You can fool whoever you’re calling into thinking they’re getting a call from someone else. The caller ID on their phone displays another number or for that matter any other number that you type in. You can even make the number indicate it’s from the Denver Broncos executive offices and you can even mask your voice to sound like a man or a woman. That’s right, you can have the message go out stating, they’re getting a phone call from Denver Broncos General Manager and Hall of Fame Quarterback John Elway.
In any case, scammers and shady business owners use the technology to dupe people.
“It’s a nightmare,” according to Stayc. Within just three months, Stayc’s business was caller ID spoofed … nearly 3,000 times at all hours. She said, “I mean it was nonstop 24/7 because we can’t just turn our phones off at 8 at night.”
Here’s the thing, what happened to Stayc isn’t entirely illegal.
“We have a very diverse user base.” This is according to Meir Cohen who runs a mobile app company that sells caller ID spoofing app Spoof Card. “Some of this is for fun, but a big chunk is for deception, right? IF you define deception, sometimes deception is necessary and good for certain people,” Meir said.
Cohen says the technology actually does serve some good. Cohen went on to say, “There’s battered women, there’s victims, there’s whistleblowers who have no other way to make a private, anonymous phone call aside from a tool like this.”
That may be, but spoofing is supposed to be outlawed if it defrauds, or causes harm, which is exactly what happened to Stayc. She said, “It should have been illegal and it should have been investigated, but we never got any calls that anything was being done.”
That’s because there was no way to trace who spoofed her towing company. No one ever got in trouble. The calls just kept coming. “There was one time I hid the phone and my husband said you can’t do that, we have to answer the phone and I’m like I can’t here it anymore,” Stayc said.
With her trucks already painted, and business cards already printed with that phone number, it was too expensive to change it.
Her only choice was to wait it out, until the spoofers finally picked a different target and that’s exactly what happened with Stayc. “They must have moved on to a different number, I don’t know.”