The spam SMS conundrum and (sort-of) resolution

The spam SMS conundrum and (sort-of) resolution

Last week, I wrote about my battle with the spam I was getting on my phone via SMS text and the new means that AT&T has given to let us block them. The particular spam I was getting all seemed to come from the same place and I’d been getting it forever. Later, I updated the post to say that I’d received an email from the company where the texts were originating apologizing and explaining that it wasn’t in fact spam, but were marketing emails being sent to someone else.


First of all, I would like to apologize. We do not, as policy, send SMS messages to any of our customers, but occasionally a customer will provide us with an email address that is actually an email for their cell phone ( for and that will cause our system to generate a SMS message. In most cases, we are able to catch these and reach out to the customer for a legitimate email address or another method of contact. We have a Dorothy Bettinelli listed in our database, but the only email associated with the account is a Gmail address. I’m not sure how these are being routed to your cell phone.

I replied with copies of the texts as well as my phone number and my own Gmail address. (They weren’t able to give me Dorothy’s email address in a laudable concern for their customer’s privacy.)

So here’s the weird thing: None of my information is in their database. Not my email address or phone number. If they are to be believed—and I have no reason to doubt them at this point—there is nothing in their servers that their IT people can find that should result in one of their marketing emails ending up on my phone as a text message. Somehow, the email they send to Dorothy is going through an email-to-SMS gateway and somehow her email and my phone number are associated in the gateway.

To make it even more strange, I don’t know Dorothy, despite us sharing the same unusual last name. There are essentially two groups of Bettinellis in the US, my family which is mainly clustered in the Boston area, and the other which is in the San Francisco and Pittsburgh areas. As far as I know, we aren’t closely related, at least as far back as 100 years or so.

It’s a real enigma, but as long as the messages stop, I’ll be satisfied. The marketing guy from Replacements, Ltd., tells me they scrubbed their database of Dorothy’s email and will only send materials to her by snail mail from now on. That should result in no more spam. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I will still wonder at how this all started in the first place.


Written by
Domenico Bettinelli