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Speak Out: 'Mystery' QSL Cards:

A contributor asks, "Have you ever received QSLs for contacts you have not made -- even ones with return envelopes, or money? Did you suspect your call was bootlegged or something else? What did you do, and what were your thoughts?"

71 opinions on this subject. Enter your opinion at the bottom of this page.
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N3PM on 2007-01-21
When my wife and I were active in county hunting, we'd get cards from stations that weren't in the log. She actually logged by hand when we were mobile, so some MRCs were returned unsigned.

W8DPC on 2007-01-21
"I once had a situation that I am almost certain was a bootleg. My grandfather’s call was W0MA. "

Maybe the station worked W0NA, or W0MK, and just got the call wrong.

N8XMS on 2007-01-21
I once had a situation that I am almost certain was a bootleg. My grandfather’s call was W0MA. He passed away in 1992 and eventually his call was assigned to the BEARS club in Saint Louis, MO. I wrote the club a letter and shared some of my memories of my grandfather with them. (I have had several very nice email, on-the-air, and in-person contacts with the club since.) Well, the person in charge of QSLs for the club sent me a Russian QSL that they had received via the bureau but for a date from before the club held the callsign. He thought that I might have my grandfather’s old logs and be able to confirm the contact. The QSL was for a contact made just a few months before my grandfather’s death. At the time he was in a nursing home and although he had a VHF rig there, he did not have any HF equipment. Furthermore, by the date of the contact my grandfather had physically and mentally deteriorated to the point that he was incapable of doing any hamming. I wrote a letter to the Russian op and explained the situation to him. (I never heard back.) I have always suspected that in the last year of my grandfather’s life someone, who probably knew him, bootlegged his call for the Extra class privileges.

Paul – N8XMS

NN6K on 2007-01-20
In 1991, I operated as A35XJ from Tonga. After being back home in the USA for awhile, I received a QSL request from an "HK" station. I checked my log & he was not in it. I returned his card & $ & said "Sorry, NIL." He made another request. I checked my logs again, both handwritten & by then, a computerized version. Still, he was "NIL" & I returned his request. On his 3rd request, I examined my log with a magnifying glass & beneath another "HK" Call, I could see his call. I recall erasing his call when another "HK" station over-rode him & made it into my log. He was correct all the time. I worked only two HK stations while in Tonga. I promptly sent him my A35 QSL, his "green stamps" & a note of apology. On the other hand, I have received card requests from stations I never worked when in Tonga. I simply returned them ... saying "sorry, NIL." I know I pointed out GMT times of their claimed QSO9s) and assured them I was never on the air at that hour.
Les Nuhn, NN6K (Ex. KE6XJ & A35XJ)

AA4BJ on 2007-01-19
I recently got one where the envelope was addressed to me but the QSL was to a call with a Dominican Rupublic prefix. I just returned it.

AI2IA on 2007-01-19
I did in fact have a unique QSL card arrive. A fellow ham in a Central American country sent me his card with all the data entries lined out along with a color map of his QTH area and a color postcard of his town's chief attraction. He said that he saw my QSL card on and thought that it was beautiful and asked for a copy. I suppose that he liked the color blue.

At any rate, to make him happy I sent him my QSL card with the data entries lined out, a map of my QTH area, and a color postcard. Hopefully sometime we can QSO and complete the boxes.

K3TJ on 2007-01-18
I have a guy with a similar call that runs around the Caribean islands. I get his cards all the time. At first I pegged it as a pirate, then I realized who it was and simply return the cards with a note saying, it was not me.
At first I told people who they REALLY worked but I stopped telling people who it REALLY was as a friend convinced me that its cheating. If someone bags the wrong call, I can't account for their ability to copy code.

Reards, Ed

N4KZ on 2007-01-18
I've received a few cards for QSOs not in my log -- some USA and some from DX stations. I returned them.

But I've had this happen too -- several times. I called CQ, usually on SSB, and two people answer me. I go back to one of them but they both start transmitting when I turn it back. It's like the one I didn't reply to either has a poor copy on me, doesn't understand me when I give the other station's callsign, has a hearing problem or just flat-out isn't listening closely. It happened to me again a few nights ago on 75m SSB. Two people answered my CQ. One was very strong and one was weak. I answered the strong station and we began talking but the weak one made two transmissions under the stronger signal -- as if I had come back to him. He finally caught on and stopped.

But I had one fellow on one such occasion who kept correcting his call and name. Well, the reason I had both "wrong" is that I wasn't talking with him. I didn't want to embarrass him and say something crass like "aren't you listening? I'm talking with someone else."

So, instead I continued talking with the person I acknowledged but emphasized the other guy's call letters hoping the other guy would finally get it. But this particular fellow didn't get it -- he just kept transmitting whenever I turned it over to my QSO partner and he kept saying, "You've got my call wrong and my name wrong."

Finally, I had to put good manners aside and tell him politely, "The reason I have them "wrong" is that two of you answered my CQ and I came back to the other station. I am in QSO with ______ and the call and name are his. I'd be glad to work you afterwards."

I hated to be so blunt but his signal was about as strong as the guy I answered and we were on 15 meters and therefore there was little chance for a 3-way roundtable. It was hard to copy either at that point. He finally "got it" but didn't hang around to work me after I signed with the first guy. My guess is he was too embarrassed.

The lesson is -- if the station you think you're working keeps using someone else's callsign, then he's probably not working you!

KU4UV on 2007-01-17
I have received a few through the bureau for contacts that I don't recall making. My primary rule is that if you are not in the log and I don't specifically recall working you, I have to assume the contact was not made. I assume that some of the cards I have received are simply calls that were written down or copied wrong.

KC4IVG on 2007-01-17
I worked my first Russian station as a novice on 15 meters cw in 1988 and he asked if I had an old American callbook...I said sure. I realized these guys couldnt get certain things at that time so I sent him a new one just trying to be a good guy.It was a bit expensive to ship!

I got 37 cards from Russian stations within 3 months for contacts on every band and almost every mode...even in the general and extra portions of the bands....And I also got requests...Call books...antenna chips....ciggarettes....spare equipment and you pretty much name it!

I never worked any of them!

I didnt bother to reply.

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