Midnight "spoofed" calls a prank?

By Jim Poole

Middle-of-the-night phone calls under the Cobleskill Fire Department’s name last week were apparently a prank. That’s the assessment of Cobleskill Fire Chief Rick Albert, who believed hundreds of Cobleskill residents may have received the calls late Friday night or early Thursday morning. Those with caller ID could see the message “Cobleskill FD 518-234-2222,” but upon answering the call, there was nothing on the other end. That’s the old fire department number, Chief Albert said, adding that it’s no longer active or rings in the firehouse. If someone calls the 2222 number back, he would get a recorded message telling the caller to dial 911. The calls, however, generated concern. One woman thought her house may have been on fire. “It was a malicious prank,” Chief Albert said. “I know some people were angry. All we can do is apologize. It wasn’t our fault. We didn’t do it. “It’s not like we have a phone issue. I can’t even explain it.” The calls may have been ‘spoofing,’ a prankster stealing a number to use, or someone making robo-calls, automatically dialing one number after another. “But if it was a robo-calls, it wasn’t successful,” said Cobleskill Police Chief Jeff Brown, adding that there wasn’t the usual come-on sales pitch at the other end. The calls seemed to range just before midnight Thursday till about 4:30am Friday, Chief Albert said. “I had at least 30 people call me,” he added. “It had to be in the hundreds who got the calls. Maybe anyone with a 234 exchange.” Investigating is probably useless, Chief Albert added. “We can never prove anything because we can’t trace the calls back,” he said. “The feds probably could, but they’re not going to waste their time with this.”

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