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Old 12-08-2018, 05:56 PM
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Stolen WiFi: What was this guy complaining about?

I got an angry phone call today from a local number (note: My number is from an out-of-state area code), from someone complaining that I was stealing his WiFi, and yelling at me to stop. I have no idea what he was talking about, because the only WiFi I've been using is my own. But he said that he saw my IP address in his logs, and looked it up to get my phone number.

Now, I suppose that it's theoretically possible that this is a scam of some sort, but it doesn't seem likely, since he wasn't even remotely attempting to get any sort of information from me. More likely, he was sincere, just extremely confused. But I'm at a loss to figure out what actually happened.

Obviously, it's not what he said: First of all, I'm not using his WiFi, and second of all, if someone is using his WiFi, the only IP address that person would have would be one they got through him. And you can't connect IP addresses to phone numbers, anyway.

But allowing for him being confused, there's apparently something going on with his network, and something he did in looking into it somehow gave him the number for a mobile phone with an area code across the country, but which is physically located near him.

Can anyone figure out what's going on here? And if my phone number is somehow showing up in places that make it look like I'm doing something wrong, how can I stop that?
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Old 12-08-2018, 06:03 PM
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well other than hes an dumbassed idiot for not locking his down with a password which I don't understand how that happens these days. ..….it sounds like who ever is using is using spoofed a number and it just happened to be real …...sort of like how a loan scammer used my number to call me according to caller id

Last edited by nightshadea; 12-08-2018 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 12-08-2018, 06:08 PM
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He has an unsecured network, sounds like a given. Unless I tell it not to my phone will automatically connect to some open networks. I also have the ability to use wifi calling when a network is available. I don't know if it's possible to get a phone number from a wifi call made on a public network but I guess it's possible.
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Old 12-08-2018, 06:16 PM
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Did he call your landline or your cell?
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Old 12-08-2018, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by eschereal View Post
Did he call your landline or your cell?
From the OP (my bold):
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
...But allowing for him being confused, there's apparently something going on with his network, and something he did in looking into it somehow gave him the number for a mobile phone with an area code across the country, but which is physically located near him.
....
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Old 12-08-2018, 06:26 PM
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He called my cell, which is the only phone I have. And if the number was spoofed, then it's either a heck of a coincidence, or a malicious act by someone who knows me (a possibility I can't actually rule out), because why would a spoofer in northeast Ohio pick a Montana phone number?

And my phone doesn't even automatically connect to public WiFi networks that are actually public. The only ones it automatically connects to are ones that I've manually connected to in the past.
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Old 12-08-2018, 06:30 PM
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Have you registered any domain names with that phone number?
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Old 12-08-2018, 06:35 PM
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Nope, no domain names.
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Old 12-08-2018, 07:08 PM
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I'd be inclined to call back and fish for details, at least to find out who pranked me. I've gotten calls that seemed to be angry callers but were actually scripted recordings designed to get a rise out of me. It took a little bit for me to figure it out, I'm on the slow side.
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Old 12-08-2018, 07:20 PM
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Cell phones use IPv6, half of which is a dynamic routing value, the other half a identifier. The latter is subnet-local, which means it could theoretically occur in more than one subnet. Hence, it seems possible that an IPv6 address could seem to refer to a different client. Or it could be that the guy just grabbed the IP number without understanding how to use it (they are hex and use some notation that might be easy to mangle).
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Old 12-08-2018, 07:37 PM
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eschereal, are you saying that he just saw a portion of an IP that happened to look like a phone number, and drew the wrong conclusion from it? And that that phone number just happened to actually belong to a real phone? And that that real phone just happened to be in the same metropolitan area as this guy?
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Old 12-08-2018, 08:10 PM
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Chronos - you inadvertently identified yourself in a previous thread (I will PM you the thread).

Not sure if someone scammed you, but given your unique name and physics background, it would be pretty easy for someone to google your cell phone number.
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Old 12-08-2018, 08:39 PM
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eschereal, are you saying that he just saw a portion of an IP that happened to look like a phone number, and drew the wrong conclusion from it? And that that phone number just happened to actually belong to a real phone? And that that real phone just happened to be in the same metropolitan area as this guy?
If you have a smartphone, it generates an IPv6 address that the routers use to get data to it. There are sixteen gazillion possible addresses in the commonly used fieldset of IPv6, so every device should theoretically have a unique one. Part of that number is a routing code, because IPv6 is supposed to be flexible, allowing whole ranges of addresses to be moved around easily. Whoever is handling your internet may be translating your IP address to a number for use within their network before sending data requests out, so your real IP number may not be the actual number that everyone else sees. Hence, an IP number lookup may yield a phone number of a cellphone, but whether it is accurate is uncertain to me. The guy who called you may not actually be a scammer, it could be that he just thought that the IP number would point right to your phone, but obviously, for whatever reason, the number was wrong or the utility he used to look it up was poorly designed.
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Old 12-08-2018, 08:57 PM
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Chronos - you inadvertently identified yourself in a previous thread (I will PM you the thread).

Dude--his listed e-mail address is his name.
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Old 12-08-2018, 09:14 PM
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Dude--his listed e-mail address is his name.
Oh my !!! 🤦
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Old 12-08-2018, 10:30 PM
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OK, eschereal, but that would still be my internet, not this guy's. And maybe the phone company does internally use my phone number as an identifier somewhere (in fact, that'd be a pretty logical choice of identifier for a phone company to use). But I don't think they'd use that anywhere that another user could see, could they?

am77494, if this is something malicious targeted at me personally (which I think unlikely but not impossible), it's probably originating from someone I know in person, who knows me by my real name anyway (but who might or might not be aware of any of my online presences). I say this both because I have a few notions of who, specifically, such a malicious person might be, and because the complaining phone call came from a local area code.

But like I said, I think it more likely that it's just someone honest but clueless about what's actually going on.
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Old 12-08-2018, 10:42 PM
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But like I said, I think it more likely that it's just someone honest but clueless about what's actually going on.
Except that it seems highly unlikely that this could actually result in what happened. When the explanations you prefer are highly unlikely, it's the ones you don't like that are probably correct, or some such aphorism.
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Old 12-08-2018, 10:58 PM
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How about the possibility that someone is indeed using his wifi, and that someone did something on the internet that involved you. So when he says he got your phone number from the IP, what he meant was that he looked at traffic initiated by this unrecognized IP and somewhere in the logs was a reference to you, and that reference somehow led to your phone number.

Got any friends or family in the area that might use random unsecured wifi hotspots to look you up?

Last edited by steronz; 12-08-2018 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 12-08-2018, 11:04 PM
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How do you use an IP address to get a phone number?
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Old 12-08-2018, 11:09 PM
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How about the possibility that someone is indeed using his wifi, and that someone did something on the internet that involved you. So when he says he got your phone number from the IP, what he meant was that he looked at traffic initiated by this unrecognized IP and somewhere in the logs was a reference to you, and that reference somehow led to your phone number.

Got any friends or family in the area that might use random unsecured wifi hotspots to look you up?
I'm leaning toward the explanation that someone is trying to prank or harass Chronos, but I think steronz's suggestion is a good one. Chronos, you're a teacher, right? Maybe one of your students was sponging off someone's WiFi and using it to submit an assignment to you in your institution's Learning Management System (Blackboard, Canvas, whatever), which WiFi Guy somehow misinterpreted as you logging in? And then, as steronz suggested, WiFi Guy looked you up?

Last edited by Defensive Indifference; 12-08-2018 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 12-08-2018, 11:14 PM
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How do you use an IP address to get a phone number?
You can't, but you like Chronos said in the OP, it's irrelevant because if someone is mooching off your wifi you can't even get "their" IP, just that one that you gave them. Wifi guy is terribly confused.
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Old 12-08-2018, 11:24 PM
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The guy who called me sounded sincere, and also sounded too old to be one of my students. But yes, it's possible that one of my students was doing... something... nefarious, and included something in their activity that linked to me, possibly with the specific intent of getting random third parties upset with me.
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Old 12-09-2018, 12:24 AM
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My guess:
The guy who called you is either hopelessly confused or lying through his teeth. He got your number ... somehow ... and called you. But as previously mentioned, you can't get a phone number by looking up an IP.

He's likely not even savvy enough to know how to check logs. Even if you did connect through his wifi your external IP would be the same as his and the private IP would be assigned by his router, probably just a digit or two different from his private IP. If he was that savvy he'd know that, in which case he'd be making the whole thing up and hoping you aren't savvy enough to see through his BS.
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Old 12-09-2018, 02:00 AM
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You can't, but you like Chronos said in the OP, it's irrelevant because if someone is mooching off your wifi you can't even get "their" IP, just that one that you gave them. Wifi guy is terribly confused.
That's what confused me, it's simply not how ip address work.
However, I do see random "intruder" connections on my network, that have their own (not your typical 192.168.1.xxx type address, usually xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx) and they usually seem to track back to a cell phone. I don't know, but I always assume it's just someone driving close enough to my house that their phone (or car) attempts to connect. Of course, it's secured AND I've set it up so new devices can't connect without my approval.

I almost wonder if the caller divined a phone number out of either the MAC id or, to make more sense, the IP address. Look at 192.168.100. Someone could assume that's 1-921-681-00? (maybe?). If your phone number starts with a common intranet prefix, that could almost make sense.


Anyways, like you/we said, if someone connected to his router, it would be given a local IP address, very similar to the one's he's already using. It could be that you just drove near his house, he caught your MAC address and had the right connections or know how to find your actual phone number or, more likely, he's full of shit (on purpose or otherwise).

In any case, if it were me, I'd block his number and move on.
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Old 12-09-2018, 03:04 AM
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And my phone doesn't even automatically connect to public WiFi networks that are actually public. The only ones it automatically connects to are ones that I've manually connected to in the past.
Can I do a brief hijack to ask what WiFi app you use that only connects automatically to networks that you've manually connected to in the past? I use something called WiFi Matic and at first it seemed to do what you described but later it started connecting to any public network I was in range of which I don't want.

Last edited by I Love Me, Vol. I; 12-09-2018 at 03:05 AM.
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Old 12-09-2018, 03:14 AM
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Can I do a brief hijack to ask what WiFi app you use that only connects automatically to networks that you've manually connected to in the past? I use something called WiFi Matic and at first it seemed to do what you described but later it started connecting to any public network I was in range of which I don't want.
It's the default on my iPhone. It asks whether to connect, but doesn't actually do it without my approval.
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Old 12-09-2018, 03:51 AM
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It's the default on my iPhone. It asks whether to connect, but doesn't actually do it without my approval.
I see. I have an Android. I guess with these you need an app to do this. I wonder if Chronos has iPhone or Android?
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Old 12-09-2018, 04:20 AM
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What's the physical distance between you and the accuser? (Montana to Ohio?) Unless he's within a few miles, tell him that WiFi doesn't carry that far and his claim is impossible. I think he got your phone number somewhat at random and is really confused about a whole bunch of stuff.
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Old 12-09-2018, 05:12 AM
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When a connection is made to a network, the device has a "name" listed. Often this is just "android-xxxxxxxxx" or model e.g. "Galaxy -A5" etc, but sometimes devices have more meaningful names ( I set mine to something I can identify easily). Is it possible that your phone has your number in its network name?

if yes, then could be that he saw it if your phone made a request or connection at some point, even if you are not actually completing the connection process.
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Old 12-09-2018, 08:28 AM
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My phone is an Android (specifically, a Moto G4), and I've never installed any WiFi apps. Connecting only to networks I've already manually connected to is the default behavior (though it does sometimes helpfully point out that open networks are available, and asks if I want to connect).

I suppose that there must be some level of communication between a device and a router even before an actual connection is made, and that that might show up in the logs. And it sounds like a bad idea for a phone to use its phone number as the identifier for such communication, but possible.
Quote:
What's the physical distance between you and the accuser? (Montana to Ohio?)
Montana is where I lived in 2005, but I'm in the Cleveland area right now. I don't know where the other guy is, but his phone number was one of the two Cleveland-area area codes, so I presume he's around here, too. Montana is only relevant because nobody would naively expect a Montana phone number to be for someone around here.
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Old 12-09-2018, 09:31 AM
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It's the default on my iPhone. It asks whether to connect, but doesn't actually do it without my approval.
Are you sure that's the default? I thought the default was auto-connect. At least I don't remember changing the settings, my iPhone and iPads all connect automatically to networks they know and public networks. At any rate, regardless of default behavior, the setting is under Settings > Wi-Fi > Auto Join

Don't Android phones have a similar option buried somewhere in the menus? But to be clear this is for all networks; I don't think there's an option to not autoconnect to open public networks. Either it prompts you for all of them, or auto-joins any of them (though there is a hierarchy for which ones it'll join first.)
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Old 12-09-2018, 09:53 AM
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I don't see that option (on Android) . The default behavior is to display a notification when a public network is available, but it does not auto join, and there doesn't appear to be an option to do so.

Perhaps you turned on auto join at some point in the past and it's propagated to all your devices via iTunes or something.
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Old 12-09-2018, 09:55 AM
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But again, this is somewhat irrelevant, as simply joining someone's network will not give them your phone number.
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:05 AM
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I don't think the prank or malicious targeting stuff makes much sense. It's just such a weird way to go about something like that. You could call the device "Chronos - 123.867.5309" so that shows up in the DHCP table to connect the IP to a person, I guess. But you'd expect the person to just change their password and blacklist the MAC rather than cause a confrontation. If you're targeting Chronos, why would you do something so unlikely to get a reaction? A normal prank is like a fake Facebook account or entering the phone number into one of those "Microsoft Support" ads so buddy is spammed all day long.

None of this makes any sense as presented. You should call buddy back to get more information.

My WAG (and this is pretty weak) is that buddy saw your name on his Facebook recommended friends list for some reason. Didn't understand why and asked someone equally clueless. That person suggested you're stealing his wifi which caused Facebook to suggest you and then buddy googled your phone number. The IP address in the logs was a lie to show how you're caught.
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:32 AM
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Yes, auto-connect is the default on 'known' wifi networks. I believe you can on check 'auto connect' for a given network, but every device I have will always try it's hardest to stay online.

For example, if I'm at home, I'm on my network. As soon as I get to work, my phone will automatically join that network, without any input from me.
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Old 12-09-2018, 10:43 AM
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Yes, auto-connect is the default on 'known' wifi networks. I believe you can on check 'auto connect' for a given network, but every device I have will always try it's hardest to stay online.

For example, if I'm at home, I'm on my network. As soon as I get to work, my phone will automatically join that network, without any input from me.
Actually, now that you mention it, that's right. It is for known networks. I only just realized it, as my phone is constantly trying to connect to free networks around town, but they all have the same name: xfinity wifi. So even though there's myriad of those networks throughout town, it's still a known network even if the individual hotspots aren't known. Ah, that makes sense. It annoys me because sometimes I'll be walking around using my phone's LTE connection and it'll automatically lock into a weak xfinity signal from somebody's house and will be slow as hell until I figure out what's going on and disable wifi. I could just have the phone forget the network and I should be good to go.

Sorry for the aside--just had an "aha!" moment that should solve one of life's minor annoyances.
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Old 12-09-2018, 01:08 PM
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Calling the guy back would make sense, in a logical world... but he was irate enough when he called that I think that the course of prudence is to have as little contact with him as possible.
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Old 12-09-2018, 06:11 PM
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There's a common scam where someone calls you and tells you there's a security problem with your computer, and (if you let them) they go on to assert that your IP address has been stolen - I've seen some examples where scambaiters let these scammers remote into a sandboxed computer and they just bring up various system utilities and baffle the mark with things that are perfectly normal.

It sounds like the guy might have listened to one of these scammers a little bit, then set off on his own course of misguided research. I guess it could even be possible that he just dialled the IP address itself and it happened that the numbers of the Ip address were the same as the digits of your phone number
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Old 12-09-2018, 06:18 PM
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My phone is an Android (specifically, a Moto G4), and I've never installed any WiFi apps. Connecting only to networks I've already manually connected to is the default behavior (though it does sometimes helpfully point out that open networks are available, and asks if I want to connect).
I hate to ask the hateful tech support question, but have you actively checked this setting since Wifi guy contacted you? Android may have pushed out updates which changed some settings, so as to "improve" performance.
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Old 12-09-2018, 06:20 PM
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Cell phones use IPv6, half of which is a dynamic routing value, the other half a identifier.
Surely a cell phone is no different than any other WiFi-capable device, and will use IPv4 or IPv6 according to what the network supports. I think you are assuming facts not in evidence.
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Old 12-09-2018, 06:56 PM
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I can't even find any setting to automatically connect to unknown WiFi networks.
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:04 PM
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Um... did it sound like this: https://www.prankdial.com/us/pranks/wifi-thief ? It's the top result on google for "angry caller stealing wifi"
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:12 PM
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Yes, in fact, it sounded exactly like that. So I think we can call this one officially solved, and all that's left is to figure out exactly which of my shortlist of disgruntled students it was who sent it.
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Old 12-09-2018, 07:45 PM
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That's what I was alluding to in post 9. Some of those record your reaction for your prankers amusement or at least they used to. The one whose number I called back was answered by a recording that said essentially "you've been pranked".
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Old 12-09-2018, 08:14 PM
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I'm leaning toward the explanation that someone is trying to prank or harass Chronos, but I think steronz's suggestion is a good one. Chronos, you're a teacher, right? Maybe one of your students was sponging off someone's WiFi and using it to submit an assignment to you in your institution's Learning Management System (Blackboard, Canvas, whatever), which WiFi Guy somehow misinterpreted as you logging in? And then, as steronz suggested, WiFi Guy looked you up?
Shoulda stuck with my gut on this one.
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Old 12-09-2018, 08:17 PM
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Well I liked your theory
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Old 12-09-2018, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
My phone is an Android (specifically, a Moto G4), and I've never installed any WiFi apps. Connecting only to networks I've already manually connected to is the default behavior (though it does sometimes helpfully point out that open networks are available, and asks if I want to connect).

I suppose that there must be some level of communication between a device and a router even before an actual connection is made, and that that might show up in the logs. And it sounds like a bad idea for a phone to use its phone number as the identifier for such communication, but possible.
Seems this would be trivialy easy for you to validate - simply disconnect and forget your current WiFi router and then check logs after your phone detects it.
  #48  
Old 12-10-2018, 10:40 PM
abcdefghij abcdefghij is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
all that's left is to figure out exactly which of my shortlist of disgruntled students it was who sent it.
Play it safe; punish them all
  #49  
Old 12-11-2018, 05:33 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Calling the guy back would make sense, in a logical world... but he was irate enough when he called that I think that the course of prudence is to have as little contact with him as possible.
Since the mystery has been solved this is too late but I am reminded about a joke/anecdote where a guy is awakened by a call at two in the morning from an irate neighbor, "Your GD dog has been barking all night and keeping me awake!"

He mumbled an apology then hung up. The next morning at two he called the neighbor back. "I have no dog."
  #50  
Old 12-11-2018, 08:45 AM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Actually, now that you mention it, that's right. It is for known networks. I only just realized it, as my phone is constantly trying to connect to free networks around town, but they all have the same name: xfinity wifi. So even though there's myriad of those networks throughout town, it's still a known network even if the individual hotspots aren't known. Ah, that makes sense. It annoys me because sometimes I'll be walking around using my phone's LTE connection and it'll automatically lock into a weak xfinity signal from somebody's house and will be slow as hell until I figure out what's going on and disable wifi. I could just have the phone forget the network and I should be good to go.

Sorry for the aside--just had an "aha!" moment that should solve one of life's minor annoyances.
My phone is always doing that. Every time I glance at it while I'm at a red light it's sitting there saying 'hey, buddy, there's some wifi over there at the gas station....come on, just click the icon"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I can't even find any setting to automatically connect to unknown WiFi networks.
I'm not entirely sure if my phone will auto connect (as in, can reach the internet) on a network it's never seen before, even if it's unsecured. However, I'm guessing the MAC address from my phone still shows up on routers it sees. At least in the logs and possibly in the attached device list. As I mentioned earlier, I do see random devices in my connected devices list and logs and I always just assume it's someone driving by.

There are handful of very easy things you can do to prevent someone from connecting (even if they'd guess/know your password).
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