posted at 5:21 pm on June 2, 2017 by John Sexton
This is a very strange story. A law firm which represents Bernie Sanders supporters in a class-action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee (and against former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz) received a call asking about the case. The caller’s voice was disguised, but when the firm checked the number on caller ID, it came up as one of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ offices. From the court filing:
At 4:54 p.m. today, an individual called our law office from “305-936-5724.” See attached photo of the caller I.D.
The caller refused to identify himself/herself, but asked my secretary about the Wilding et al. v. DNC et al. lawsuit. My secretary stated that it sounded like the caller was using a voice changer, because the voice sounded robotic and genderless — along the lines of the voice changers used when television show interviews are kept anonymous. The caller concluded with “Okey dokey,” after my secretary gave the caller public information about the case.
After the call ended, a simple Google search of the phone number “305-936-5724” shows that it is the phone number for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’ Aventura office….
The filing contains an image of the caller ID showing the phone number and a link to a contact page for Wasserman Schultz’ office with the same number. So, at least at first glance, it appears the call did come from her office.
An attorney for the firm told the Observer, “I’ve never encountered a situation quite like this in my practice, but I have seen situations where one party has made unsolicited contact with lawyers on the other side.” He continued, “In such situation, I believe it is a lawyer’s responsibility, as officer of the court, to make prompt notification to the court of any unsolicited communications received, which is what we did in this case.” The Observer story goes on to note that Wasserman Schulz has denied responsibility for the call in a response by her attorneys:
On June 2, attorneys representing Wasseman Schultz filed a response, denying the call was made from Wasserman Schultz’s office and that they have referred the U.S. Capitol Police to investigate possible fraud in someone trying to impersonate Wasserman Schultz’s office.
I don’t know anything about spoofing phone numbers but it does strike me as odd that someone would make the effort to disguise their voice electronically and then apparently forget about the caller ID. If you wanted to make an anonymous call, wouldn’t it be better to hide the phone number and talk like a normal person? In this case, the voice changer just seems to draw attention to the call. Also, if you’re trying to pump the law firm receptionist for inside information, the voice changer seems like a bad choice.
Then again, it never pays to overlook gross incompetence as an explanation. If someone from Wasserman Schulz’ office was going to make an inappropriate call about a lawsuit, this seems about how I would expect it to go.