“Hi, is this Justin Bieber?” is how I started each of several dozen phone calls. I collected the numbers, which promise to be a direct line to the singer, from the comment section on one of Bieber’s shirtless Instagram posts. I wanted to know where they all lead and what the people on the other end of the line hope to achieve.
Similar promises are littered all over almost any pop star’s Instagram comment sections and come in a variety of forms, whether they assure that “rest were fake, this # is real” or offer bonus content, like nudes that never materialize. Were some of the numbers shady hotlines charging dollars per minute? Or Bieber fans who wanted to talk shop? Neither, it turns out. Every single number was a prank — usually on the person who picked up the phone as well as myself, but occasionally just on me, by a fake Bieber who answered all my questions with some variation of “these nuts on your chin.” More on that later.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.