High Strangeness: 661-388-1670

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Color me creeped out.

Two nights ago my wife and I were having dinner when my cell phone rang. Like most people, I don't like having my dinner interrupted by a phone call. What made it worse was that it was a number I didn't recognize from an area code I had never heard of: 661-388-1670.

I ignored it, but was curious enough to check the 661 area code. Turns out it's in southern California, covering a wide swath of territory north of Greater Los Angeles, and including parts of four different counties. Interesting, but you don't read this blog to learn about geography.

After dinner I checked to see if the mystery caller had left a voicemail message. I have a lot of friends in southern California, so it seemed possible that one of them had called from a new number that I didn't recognize. But there was no message. Rude bastard.

I forgot about the call until this morning, when I saw it again in my call history and decided to go CSI. A little bit of targeted Googling revealed that the '388' exchange most likely originated from Kern County. Still no help. Who the hell lives in Kern County? Everybody I know in southern California lives in Greater LA, as close to the ocean as possible.

Then something strange happened. I came upon an internet site called "800notes-Directory of Unknown Numbers." The site seems to be dedicated to cataloging spoof telephone numbers, numbers that are known for irritating, intrusive but ultimately untraceable calls...

So I start reading the site, and, lo and behold, a whole slew of people have been getting nuisance calls from 661-388-1670, all within the past month or so. Seriously, when I saw those ten digits at the top of the webpage I got the chills... I read on, and learned that some people get a recording promising them lower interest rates on their credit cards if they call back now. Some get a dead line when they pick up. Some, like me, who don't answer, get no message. Some people call back and get on the line with someone who hangs up as soon as they start to ask questions, but most seem to just get a "mailbox full" message.

That's what I got: a "mailbox full" message, delivered by a generic female phone company voice. But at the point in the recording where the person who owns the mailbox states his or her name, there's a terrifically creepy, vaguely male-sounding voice that says something that-- well, it's no language I know. "Shmleaulgh" is what it sounds like. "Scloughhhl." "Cleauuushgl." Every time I listen to it, it sounds different. But every time it creeps me the hell out. 

Who are you, 661-388-1670? Are you a UFO occupant? Are you a Man In Black? Can you really lower the interest rate on my credit card?

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