For the last two years, Adelmira and Nicholas Garcia of Illinois have endured phone calls and texts from a phantom caller who used a spoofing app to make it appear as if the calls originated from the couple’s own cellphones.
Their daughter Vicky Gama told News 6 her parents, who live in a suburb of Chicago, tried everything to stop the calls and texts, sometimes amounting to 70 text messages and calls in one day.
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“It could start as early as six in the morning and as late as 10 and 11 at night,” Gama recalled. “It looks like my mother is calling my father, and my father is calling my mother.”
The texts warned the Garcias if they didn’t answer the phone, they would keep calling.
Many of the texts were peppered with vulgarity one read: “F--- you B---- you can’t get us.”
Alex Quilici, CEO of California-based YouMail, told News 6 the couple’s phones are being “spoofed.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission, spoofing “is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity.”
Last year, 50% of traced back calls originated in the United States.
The FCC reports scammers often use “neighbor spoofing” so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number.
“It’s really harassing,” Quilici told News 6. “I’m sure it’s the same app because we traced back five or six calls and they all went to the same exact path.”
Qulici and News 6 have worked together on robocall investigations and alerts since 2018.
In this case, Quilici enlisted the help of the U.S. Telecom Traceback Group (ITG) established in 2015 to stop robocalls at the source.
The intercepted calls were all hang-ups according to Quilici, but each call was tracked to the identical app and they are close to finding who is behind the spoofed calls.
“I think the thing here is enforcement, not at the user level, but enforcement at the provider levels,” Quilici told News 6.
The Garcias signed up for the YouMail robocall app, allowing Quilici and his team to collect data on the unwanted robocalls.
Their daughter told News 6 she is discussing legal action with several attorneys recommended by Quilici.
The working theory now is the caller or callers know the family because one of the spoofed calls appeared to come from a relative in Mexico.
YouMail currently has 10 million users and the free app is considered one of the best for blocking spam calls, blocking billions of them every month.
If you would like to add the YouMail app to your cellphone, head to the YouMail website.
If you have a robocall issue and want it investigated, email email@example.com