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'My ex co-worker is using burner numbers to harass my husband and acting obsessive' UPDATED

'My ex co-worker is using burner numbers to harass my husband and acting obsessive' UPDATED


"A former co-worker is using burner numbers to sexually harass my husband and acting obsessive"

I know this is long, but really I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this. In late November of last year my husband, “Paul” was tasked with training a new hire named “Frank” who was brought in from outside the company. Paul does not usually lead training, however, Frank’s supervisor was overwhelmed during the last quarter. Frank worked at Paul's office for a little over a month.

Frank seemed friendly at first, albeit an excessive texter. Even Paul’s boss (Frank’s future boss’s boss) complained that they received social messages from Frank during non-work hours. Sometimes Frank’s messages would be incoherent, and needier if he did not receive an immediate reply followed by multiple question marks.

My husband addressed this with Frank during his training, and for the most part, the messages became infrequent. After Frank was placed at his branch the messages subsided. In early January Paul’s boss asked if he could discuss a work matter with Frank because whose direct report was on vacation. Later that day, Frank sent Paul a message that said “Babe!”

Paul thought perhaps Frank had accidentally texted the wrong person. Paul didn’t respond. Frank sent more messages regarding work, and when Paul didn’t immediately reply, Frank made a sexually suggestive comment. Paul responded, “Stop making things weird." Frank apologized, but then added, “you’re hot though.” My husband told him, “you need to stop, this is not a line I want to cross with you.”

Frank then said something along the lines of he was available if Paul wanted him. Paul said, “I’m a happily married man,” to which Frank replied, “that’s what all men say.” Paul again told Frank to stop. I had previously met Frank when I visited my husband’s office, Paul has pictures of me on his desk; his sexual orientation and marital status were not ambiguous when Frank sent those messages.

Paul told me what happened as soon as he arrived home from work. I said he should screenshot the messages and report them to HR. However, Paul felt so uncomfortable with the messages, he deleted them. Paul assumed Frank was drunk and once of clear mind, he would be embarrassed and forget that it happened.

Over the next few days, Paul received between 2 – 3 messages daily from Frank. They were about work, however, towards the end of the week Frank became apologetic and told Paul he had hoped they could still be friends. Paul has only briefly known this person, has never hung out with him outside the office, nor has he engaged in social texts.

Paul has not answered any of Frank’s messages since the first time he told him to stop.

A couple of things occurred to me over the next week:

- A week after Frank was placed at his new branch, Paul received messages from an iCloud account. They said, “Hey sexy,” and when Paul didn’t reply, they were followed by “?.” Paul immediately blocked the account assuming it was a scammer. In the last few months, Paul received frequent texts from unknown numbers with local area codes that addressed him by name.

Paul thought they were all from Robo-scams. I realized that this started to around the time Frank began his training.

- When I visited my husband’s office, Frank he barely acknowledged me when we were introduced.

That night I joked with my husband that during my visit Frank was like a shadow and seemed to appear every time I turned around.

After a week of unanswered texts, Frank again apologized and asked if Paul would call him. He had called Paul's office earlier to see if he was there. Subsequently, Paul contacted his assistant managers/co-workers and asked them not to share his schedule with anyone who calls.

Frank messaged that he would stop texting and was sorry if he bothered Paul. Later in the night, Paul started to receive messages from an unknown number with a local area code. The first message said, “Hey, remember me?” I *67 the number from my phone to see if it was a computer or actual phone line. When I called, it rang twice and then went to voicemail

The person never stated their name, and the texts were incoherent. The texter asked, “Are you trying to end my career?” They claimed to be a former employee and then said they previously dated Paul. We have been together for two decades and I’m the only person Paul has ever dated. The messages continuously baited Paul to call the number to find out who was texting him.

Finally, they said, “You used to be sweet.” Paul didn’t block the number immediately because he wanted to see if the person would incriminate themselves. Paul received 20+ messages throughout the night. He never responded to any of them and the number is now blocked. He paid a small fee to look up the number and found that it belongs to Onvoy. The person used a VoIP to text.

Paul tried to look up a VoIP registry online. Paul reported the anonymous number to the FTC with the text logs. He took screenshots of all the undeleted messages between him and Paul and the anonymous number. Paul also called local law enforcement. He knew they wouldn’t be able to do anything because no direct threat was made. They told him to keep the number blocked.

Paul paid service to retrieve the texts he deleted that came directly from Frank’s number but it was unsuccessful. iCloud back-up was not activated.

The next week at work one of Paul’s assistant managers approached him. They follow Frank on Facebook and were alarmed by his posts. The day after Paul received the texts from an unknown number, Frank made similar posts online, and added, “With me, you’re either ride or die or dead.”

Paul compiled all the information he had and shared it with his boss and company HR. Over the next few weeks, Paul continued to receive texts from Frank. Sometimes one a week, or once every other week. After a month-long investigation, HR touched base that their legal department found several red flags, however, they can’t disclose info because of confidentiality. Nor were they going to fire Frank.

Paul has been away on business for the past two weeks and I have been home alone. Paul told me he received texts from Frank that asked how his business trip was going. Just to reiterate, Paul hasn’t responded to Frank’s messages since he told him to stop, which was over a month ago. Last night I saw I had several missed calls from Paul around midnight.

When I called him back I could tell he was worried. Same as before he started to receive texts from a (different) number with a local area code. They said, “I miss you, why do you hate me?” The number called him consecutively for an hour. Paul had to turn on the do not disturb option. The following text messages he received were sexually explicit and some referenced me.

For the most part, I feel safe at home. We have a PO Box and an unlisted street address. There are exterior and interior cameras at all of the entry points around our home. Also, our neighborhood has 24 hr. security.

However, I’m worried sick every time Paul leaves the house.

We’ve wanted to start a family for a very long time but have struggled with infertility. Unfortunately this past month I suffered another miscarriage. This person has added unnecessary stress to our lives. Last night I was shaking and could not sleep. Any advice on how to find out where the texts are coming from, or how to handle harassment would be much appreciated.

Paul and I already discussed going to the police once he returns home.

[Edit] More info - We were definitely frustrated with HR’s response. My husband was told legal would review all of the information he shared. He spoke to them on the phone several times, hour-long conversations.

They asked if he felt safe and he said frankly, no. Things escalated in such a short period. They took certain precautions i.e. he was never in the building alone, he didn't work past sunset, he parked towards the front, and security made sure cameras are facing the parking lot. They seemed supportive at first.

However, the investigation took a month and they told my husband there wasn’t enough to fire Frank. The HR rep did say she was surprised by legal’s resources, she didn't realize how much they have access to, and that they found several red flags. But they are unable to share what they found, or when/if Frank would be disciplined.

Everything was treated like it was supposed to go back to normal even though it doesn’t seem like it was discussed with Frank nor did it stop. I used hyphens for "Paul" and "Frank" because I tried to leave out identifying info. I slipped up when typing and at one point used Frank's real name which I corrected. I doubt he would find this post but this whole situation has me exercising precaution.

Update, 11 hours later:

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my original post and offer suggestions and support. I have received a lot of helpful advice and I’m so appreciative. There were a few details I left out because of length but I tried to answer them in the comments. My husband is still away on his business trip but will be returning home tonight.

Paul does plan to get a new phone number once he returns home. We discussed filing for an order of protection. One source of comfort is that we have a PO Box and our street address (we rent) is not available online. With a restraining order, we would have to disclose our address. We're weighing the pros and cons.

My husband and I spoke this morning and he filled me in on a few new details. His boss called him last night after he sent her screenshots of the texts from the VoIP. They have a great working relationship and she disclosed a few things that she wasn’t necessarily supposed to share. Legal was not able to link the VoIP texts and calls to Frank.

There have been two separate numbers (that we know of) that have been used to harass my husband. Paul used Spokeo to look up the information and both numbers are owned by the company Onvoy. My husband’s boss suggested that next time he receives a phone call from the VoIP number to answer and record the conversation. I don’t know if he should do that.

If anyone knows how to search VoIP numbers so we can connect them to Frank that would be a huge help. After Frank was placed at his new office last December, he has repeatedly asked to transfer back to my husband’s branch. Paul is well-regarded within his company and next in line for a promotion. During Frank’s training, he would often make comments about how alike they were.

Paul thought Frank was referring to their similar background in business, however, I searched online and Frank might have lied about some of his previous work experience. Physically, personality-wise, and familial background they are very different. I don’t think the harassment is just based on attraction.

There have been several messages where Frank calls my husband his “friend and mentor,” which is bizarre because they only worked together for five weeks. There were a few comments about Paul deleting the initial texts from Frank. I was also frustrated by his decision but I understand why. Paul had a rough childhood and his first instinct is to avoid conflict.

The texts made him feel so uncomfortable he didn’t want to open his messages and see them. He had hoped that they could forget what had happened, however, the situation escalated. To be clear, those were the only inappropriate texts sent directly from Frank’s number. His subsequent messages say things like, “Hey, haven’t heard from you in a while.” “Hey, how’s it going?”

The texts from VoIP are explicit. There are similarities in verbiage and format from Frank's texts, Facebook posts, and the VoIP texts. I did do some research on Frank. I searched our state’s court dockets and found that he was arrested for a DUI a month before he started work at the company.

Paul's boss had previously complained that Frank was repeatedly messaging her about when his background check would be completed when he was hired. She thought it was suspicious but nothing was flagged. At one point during training, Frank texted a co-worker from a random number. The co-worker asked if it was an alternative contact and Frank explained that it was his SmartWatch.

When everything happened I tried to find as much info as possible. When I Googled his primary number nothing came up. However, the co-worker shared the “SmartWatch number" which is listed online as Frank’s primary contact for the past two decades. It also shows several numbers attached to Frank’s name and it is noted next to one of them that it is a VoIP.

There were previous addresses linked to Frank’s phone number. According to one address, a “Frank L Smith” and a “Frank L Miller” lived at the same residence with the same people. I looked up both of those names and they have different birthdates within a few years of each other. I was curious because Frank had told my husband he was divorced and I thought perhaps he had changed his last name.

“Frank L Smith” had the same birthdate as the court docket I found. The biggest thing my husband’s boss told him was Frank recently asked for an out-of-state transfer which is currently being processed but not certain. Paul has mixed feelings about this; he first felt relieved but then frustrated that the company's approach was to make Frank someone else’s problem. And it doesn't guarantee that it will stop.

OP made an update in the comments:

Oh wow, I read this sub all the time but never thought one of my posts would be on it. I don't want to go back through and read my original post. I don't remember everything I included. When this all happened, I had undiagnosed hyperthyroidism. Elevated thyroid hormones can make anxiety symptoms more pronounced if you're unfamiliar with the disorder.

I was experiencing heart palpitations, hand tremors, and uncontrollable shaking—if you Google hyperthyroid symptoms, I checked every box. It also caused issues with infertility. I subsequently went on an anti-thyroid medication, and the following fall, we became pregnant. I had a healthy pregnancy, and we now have a beautiful 13-month-old daughter who loves cuddles and exploring the world around her.

I changed specific identifiable details in my original post. For one, my husband and the creep's names, and two, I was vague about their workplace. I was frustrated at the time with my husband—" D"—and it caused disagreements. I was upset with him and his company for offering limited resources.

But I support my husband and his decisions—I didn't want him to blame himself for the harassment or deleting the texts. D was acting politically toward the entire situation, which I hated. The big picture was D knew that he was under review for advancement that offered substantial raises and benefits.

D works for a popular national retailer, and with a promotion, he would move out of store level into corporate. I think this drew "the creep" to my husband in the first place because D was receiving a lot of positive attention (before the creep's arrival).

At the time, I did my research into the creep. He is a job jumper—a bit of a Tom Ripley without the charm or attractiveness. He polished up his LinkedIn. For instance, he listed his hire date with the retailer when all the stores were closed during lockdown. Shortly after this happened, the creep was fired anyway for time theft.

A month after he was let go, he texted my husband through a VoIP. He truly believed that D still didn't know it was him. Because the creep was no longer an employee, my husband didn't have to operate above board and ripped him apart. It gave the creep the attention he wanted, so after that, D didn't block his number and just ignored his messages.

The creep moved a few states away and started a new job. Around three months later, D got "No Caller ID" calls repeated for five minutes straight. But no more texts. This happened every three months for about a year. I discovered later that an app can unmask no-caller IDs. D downloaded the app on his phone, and whenever he received those calls, it would come up with the creep's full name.

D has a running log. We've talked about taking that info to a lawyer for a restraining order, but eventually, the phone calls became further in between. My husband received them in April 2022, and then December 2022 was the last time. I think the creep calls when he is drunk and sad and wants to feel powerful. Some needed clarification as to why my husband didn't want to change his number.

D has had the same phone number since he was 16. He has a brother who struggles with addiction and sometimes goes missing. His brother has my husband's phone number memorized and can always contact him wherever he is. My husband now has a company phone, so when he received the no-caller IDs from the creep, he turned off his personal phone.

I understand the sentiment about getting a lawyer and HR protecting the company's assets. We weren't naïve to corporate culture. D often has to partner with HR for customer or associate issues. But I also see the other side that my husband loves his job and the company he works for.

A year after all of this happened, he was promoted, and we moved to another part of the country where our daughter was born. We were able to buy our first home, and his pay allows me to work part-time from home while I take care of our daughter. I think about what happened occasionally, but it’s no longer a constant. It has influenced how I interact with new people.

I'm more aware of what I share with others, especially regarding our child. Looking back, what upsets me the most is some people's preconceived notions or attitudes toward the situation. Insinuating that my husband led this man on, was naïve, or even received his promotion as a payoff, diminishing everything D's worked so hard to achieve.

I see cases every day where people are harassed through VoIPs, and similar to what happened with us, law enforcement is of no help until the situation escalates.

I had a thyroidectomy early this summer to remove two tumors from my thyroid, and I no longer have to take medication. However, my hormones have been out of whack, especially being postpartum on top of it. I've had to deal with some additional health issues. But revisiting this situation reminds me how much we've already overcome and that I can handle anything.

Sources: Reddit
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