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Ask HN: My wife keeps being harassed in WhatsApp, what can I do?

My wife receives constantly receives harassment messages in whatsup for couple of months. it seem to originate from different local phone numbers. Once in a while the number is switched, but the content is the same. Looks like all the numbers are from burner phones.

What I tried: * Used Truecaller type apps to identify the person, but no results. * I created a mock website and sent a link to the person behind it, hoping that he will press the link and I could track his IP. but unfortunately he/she didn't press the link.

Anyone has any idea how can I identify the person behinds this ?

7 pointsstdcall83 posted 4 months ago15 Comments
codegeek said 4 months ago:

Forget technology solutions. Depends on who the harasser is. I would respond to them with something like "You have been reported to the police and feel free to keep doing this". I would still report this to the police even though I know they won't do much until it becomes a real threat but a record with police is a good start.

necovek said 4 months ago:

Assuming you tried going through whatsup first, report them to police or cell operator, let them deal with it: they might have access to which actual phones (IMEI) have been used for those numbers, and if those devices have also been used with non-burner numbers.

If they are indeed multiple burner phones (different IMEI numbers), then police it is: they can get IP and similar data from whatsup, etc.

Remember, you don't need to know who is harrasing her, just for them to stop!

stdcall83 said 4 months ago:

Went to the police, twice. they did nothing. how do I go through whatsup ?

hackermailman said 4 months ago:

You're supposed to go through a lawyer when dealing with the police otherwise they just brush you off. Said lawyer will tell you not to escalate (like sending embedded payloads), and to document everything for the future. You went to the cops twice and gave up, imagine how many times this harasser has tried to screw you over, probably phoning in fake harassment claims to every police station they can dozens of times in hopes you get screwed over somehow by them. That's the petty game harassers do all the time. Should this person ever confront you in the physical world, and you do something violent to them, they will absolutely be lying to the police about it trying to put all the blame on you.

technological said 4 months ago:

One potential solution.Assuming you are in US , get a Google Voice number and change your wife WhatsApp account to that number (Account - Change number). This way she would not lose all her chat history and continue use new number which the person won't know. You route calls from old number in Google voice. So everything will be usual just the person harassing will not have her new number

umtksa said 4 months ago:

how about spaming the harraser with whatsapp bots? If you are using iOS you can do it without a library or service just use siri shortcuts to make a spammer. like send 100 messages for every recieved message here is a easy to use spammer i found on github (not tried) https://github.com/gaultierlecaillon/whatsapp_spammer edit: added link to github repo

richardknop said 4 months ago:

Change phone number and open new WhatsApp account.

dyeje said 4 months ago:

Blocking them as they come up or changing accounts seems easiest.

Tepix said 4 months ago:


stdcall83 said 4 months ago:

Yep. sorry.

max_ said 4 months ago:

You can send them an image payload with spyware embedded in it

stdcall83 said 4 months ago:

Tell me more

runjake said 4 months ago:

Or better yet, just a URL that collects a ton of telemetry. In most cases, their curiousity will win out and you can get browser/platform/ip address details that might help suss out the attacker.

I'll do this with a simple PHP page that records everything useful from $_ENV and $_REQUEST.

Bonus: it's legal.



max_ said 4 months ago:
nao360 said 4 months ago:

This is probably really obvious but just in case: be careful you don't break any laws in the process. Would be a shame to land in as much hot water as the perpetrator. Good luck!