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?

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

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.

Did he call your landline or your cell?

From the OP (my bold):

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.

Have you registered any domain names with that phone number?

Nope, no domain names.

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.

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).

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?

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.

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.

Dude–his listed e-mail address is his name.

Oh my !!! 🤦

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.

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.

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?

How do you use an IP address to get a phone number?

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?