A clothing entrepreneur in Shaanxi province says he received hundreds of calls and text messages from citizens after his phone number was posted online with a message identifying him as a member of the central government’s anti-corruption investigation team.
The 35-year-old man, surnamed Shi, said that the prank was carried out by an old school friend last month and has begun to seriously disrupt his life. In photos posted to his microblog account, Shi’s phone log shows scores of missed calls and hundreds upon hundreds of text messages from people seeking to report instances of misdoing.
On September 6, Shi addressed the rumor in another Weibo post, saying that the influx of calls was becoming unbearable and that if he were forced to change his number, which has been linked to his small business for 14 years, it would be disastrous.
Dozens of officials and public figures have been held for investigation since the launch of President Xi Jinping’s highly touted campaign against corruption, vowing to take down high-profile “tigers” to lowly “flies”.
Phone services, such as the one supposedly offered by Shi, become an outlet for many to make their voices heard. As WSJ points out, foreign journalists’ numbers are even purchased by citizens who sometimes call to report police abuses they’ve witnessed.
Shi said that his phone has been ringing non-stop and around the clock since his number was posted over 30 days ago
“I’m begging friends on the Internet to spread the message and help refute rumors,” he wrote in a public plea. “Give me back my peace.”