Clean Teeth, Dirty Calls

POSTED: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 - 11:07am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm

Joyce Outlaw is used to taking lots of calls at Dr. Robert Thousand's St. Augustine, Florida endodontics office. "There it goes again," Outlaw says as the phone rings. "So far, we've had 433 calls since 9:30 this morning."

Thousand has housed his practice in the same office for 10 years, but he said he has never gotten calls like this. "I think you get charged every time your cell phone rings. I get four to five hundred of these a day so I've contacted AT&T. Who knows what my bill will be...thousands, I'm sure," he says.

Every call has the exact same risqué message from a prerecorded sex-line. "It's the same recording every time. It's a homemade recording that someone has downloaded on a computer and is dialing it through a computer on the automatic dial," Dr. Thousand explains.

The St. Johns Sheriff's Office is investigating and has subpoenaed his phone records, but so far officials have not been able to track down the source.
"It's cyberterrorism...you know, somebody terrorizes you, does this to your business. It's shutting me down," Thousand says. He says changing his number is just not possible, adding that it likely is too late to get a new number in next year's phone books.

"All contacts in the last 10 years have this same number," he says. "We are the emergency room for all our referrals from 50 miles and they depend on us to take care of them and they can't get through." For now the plan is to turn off the ringers and watch the caller ID.