An old friend goes missing, and you receive her phone in the mail...

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Registered Ninja
I'd assume that there's a reason she sent it to me, and try to figure out what it was. Check recent texts, look for any apps that might have clues. (I'd probably also call the police).


Staff member
text this to every number in the phone:

I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my friend go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

because, DAMN, how often will you get a chance to say that?


Then you'll have to explain to some of them how you accidentally butt-threat-texted them.


In real life I'd take the phone to the police ;)

In an RPG or movie setting, I would probably see who's listed in the Emergency Contacts (since I assume the phone is locked and has a password protecting it which I don't know) to see who/what is listed. If the phone isn't locked, I would probably check the call and txt history as well as any other histories or logs I can find on the phone, including photos and videos. I'd probably also check the package to see if I recognize the handwriting on the address label, if there's a return address, anything out of place, etc.


Following standard protocol for all pacakages arriving at the Jelantru household:

I pick up the package while wearing gloves. I run it through the scanner, see if it's a bomb.

I take pictures of it and the labe ls, and store them on my multi-site replicated server. I'll be having the techs track down the shipping info to confirm who sent it.

I put it into my hazmat glove box and seal it. Then I stick my arms into the gloves and open the package carefully. On establishing that it is a smart phone, I'll be getting prints taken off the package and the phone to confirm who all handled it.

While the prints are being looked up, hook up the memory to an isolated computer and check its contents. examine emails, contact list, call logs, text logs. identify sources on all of those and check for any indications as to what my friend was up to before the phone was sent to me.

At this point, I should have some leads to go on, and I can send in Jack Bauer to track down the leads. Odds are good the problem will be solved within 24 hours.


First Post
In real life: Check if there are any obvious messages on the phone -- meaning notes or something because you can't generally access voice mail without a password. (I would wear gloves while doing this because I work with criminal attorneys and know the basics of forensics.)

If there's nothing obvious from my friend saying what I'm supposed to do with this, I move on to the next logical step. I contact the FBI. Not the local police because they can't do a thing in a situation like this. If it's a kidnapping, the FBI is the place to start. They will know the right State Department people to contact and move from there. Basically, I'm now out of it, other than answering questions for the real investigators.

Unless my friend is rich or her family has influence, nothing ever comes of it because there isn't enough money to follow up on every possible kidnapping. Friend dies in a hole in the ground when the ransom isn't paid. (I sure couldn't afford to pay it.)

(If the friend works for a company down there, like an oil company say, I also contact them so they can notify their people who handle such things. I figure the company has more stake in not losing employees than the overworked FBI.)

In a game world: Either I or my plucky contact analyze the phone for all data, hack the phone company for a list of every tower its pinged off of (or satellite if it's a satellite phone), ultimately tracking down every place this phone has been. Assuming I haven't been contacted by the kidnappers to give me a better lead, either I or I and my group of oddly well qualified buddies go visit this kidnapping playground and track down my friend.

(If it's a group of friends, one or more will have to die to give the adventure depth. If I'm alone, I have to be having some serious angst about how worried I am about this friend, or possibly regrets because I never told her I love her and want to marry her, or maybe just over how I somehow ruined this person's life. Gotta get some story in somehow.)

And the tracking down part assumes I didn't just somehow access a super military or Google satellite and get realtime data of exactly where the phone is so I can see everywhere it went before I leave town.

Wednesday Boy

The Nerd WhoFell to Earth
I'd check to see who she called last or most frequently to see if anything stood out there. If she was still logged into her e-mail I'd check which e-mails were unopened to set up a timeline of when she stopped communicating. And I'd fiddle around with it to see if there are any messages to me that would explain why it was sent to me.

That was if it was an RPG. In real life I would check to see if they were still signed into Facebook, then make embarassing updates as them.

I'd start by checking their photo gallery for fun and naughty personal pictures.

What? Don't look at me like that. I'm not the bad guy here, I'm just the only one willing to admit it.


Mod Squad
Staff member
What do I, as in real-world me, with my real-world skill set, do?

My friend disappeared overseas? Do I have resources appropriate for doing globe-trotting investigative work? The plane tickets and hotel rooms alone would quickly drain my available funds pretty quickly, and the language barriers would make me ineffective at following leads in non-English-speaking lands.

So, realistically, either the oversees angle is a red herring, I am effectively the password-keeper for the phone, or I am being set up.

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