Pretending to be s2s callers

When I pause a CW pile-up to ask s2s?? s2s?? I expect that the responders are legitimate s2s SOTA activators. In recent weeks, however, I have experienced some chasers who pretend to be s2s callers by replying to my s2s??. When these are suspiciously strong signals, I have repeated my s2s?? s2s?? — only to have that same chaser respond again with his/her callsign while others standby. I naively assumed that meant they were legitimate s2s callers.

When I am calling another activator for summit-to-summit, I preface my call with " S2S S2S de WB2FUV WB2FUV K". In the future, when I pause the pile for s2s?? s2s?? I will only respond to callers who positively identify as s2s callers. Meanwhile, I commend the SOTA chasers who respect the s2s protocol and politely standby when they hear “s2s s2s”.

Stay well& 73!
Mike, WB2FUV





Similar experience, though I don’t work quite as hard to weed out the non-S2S spoofers. I do the same and try to get the S2S stations first. If a discourteous OP continues to steamroll others, I’ve used the “S2S Only” which works about 1/2 the time.

Ultimately getting one oblivious station out of the way thins the herd a bit and allows me to hear the weaker stations (S2S, QRP, etc.) As the S2S initiator, I know I’ll likely need to pick opportune moments to insert S2S but don’t do so aggressively. Patience prevails.

Merry Christmas.



It’s happened to me on SSB too Mike. I’ve even had made up summit references passed to me. Some people must be desperate for one of the chaser or S2S trophies! Maybe they produce their own fake versions to go with their fake contacts? :rofl:


Is it possible they were GMA references?

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I think this is the advantage we have in Europe where SOTA activators still opt to use /P. I and many other activators give priority to /P stations.

Nothing is perfect, not all portable stations are S2S and a small minority of chasers will fake being portable but it works most of the time. This is no help to you stateside where no one uses /P anymore. I don’t see an obvious solution to people who cheat but sending “ur sota ref?” might dissuade some of them.

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Hi Mike

We’ve had this topic many times…

It always annoys me too! I find it particularly stupid at the so-called S2S Parties… where there are only a few S2S QSOs because many chasers are so selfish.

The real challenge itself is not the QSO between 2 QRP stations on the summit, but to be heard in the uninterrupted pile up of the strong chasers.

As an activator you are at a disadvantage at an S2S party… Crazy!

73 Armin


No idea… maybe.

I make it very clear when activating that I’m participating in SOTA (“CQ SOTA…”). Most other award scheme participants also seem to whether it be WAB, parks, lighthouses, castles or FF. I’m happy to talk to them and even chase them to help give them a contact, but I don’t bother recording their reference or participate in those other schemes.


When I call CQ SOTA, I out myself as the calling SOTA activator.

Of course, as a SOTA activator, I also really like having a SOTA S2S QSO…
In Europe the call “summit to summit” has become established in SSB… in CW it is “/P”
In this respect, the CW call S2S would be an advantage over the /P. - but there is still the possibility that it is a GMA call.

But ultimately, with “/P” it doesn’t matter to me whether the OP calling is participating in SOTA or another program or doing their personal field day. As a rule, they are QRP stations and I am happy about every QSO with a QRP station.

There is simply the problem of being heard with low power in the middle of the loud chasers.

What can I do as an activator?

  • I’m trying to sensitize my ear and listen for corresponding calls among all the strong signals.
  • I take longer breaks to give the weak stations a bigger chance of being heard by me.
  • I ask specifically about /P and often do so several times when I hear chasers who ignore this question
  • If I hear a /P station, then I call it specifically and often - even if cheeky chasers interrupt.

…and now I no longer call these pushy chasers back!

I know some activators who also like to actively do S2S QSOs.
I once tried to reach Fabio @IK2LEY at a summit. It was not possible for me to be heard between the chasers. So I called CQ SOTA a few kHz off and spotted myself. It didn’t take long until I got a call from Fabio and we had our S2S QSO.

I know - it’s not much and it’s not really satisfactory… but I can’t think of what else I could do at the summit!

73 Armin


Good idea, especially if you accidentally forget to log that contact.


Unfortunately they still get the chaser points, as do all the phantom calls that seem to have chased me.


But not, I think, the S2S points since I believe Andy’s devious code checks those.

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Just thinking out loud - could it possibly be ops that really don’t know CW all that well beyond their own call and just wait to hear it back (all other info is grabbed from sotawatch)?


they do THAT without making contact. why bother. - fd


I’ve had a few callsigns show up as having chased me when I don’t recall having spoken to them. Maybe it’s my memory…


Most, if not all, of these phantom QSOs have happened when there’s been a pile up. My last few activations have started on 30m and I have really struggled to make out the chaser callsigns as they are all sending at once. If I’m struggling to hear chasers who are probably running 100W then they will be struggling to hear my 5W and so they probably think I am sending them a report. If you can’t really hear the other station then it’s not a proper QSO but they just want to log it and move on to the next one.

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That’s exactly my experience: I know I didn’t work a particular chaser but their callsign appears on the SOTA database for my activation. In my opinion, chasers should not log a QSO unless they hear their callsign clearly and not assume it might be there somewhere in the pile-up.

I’ve also had chasers disappear when I’ve given them a signal report but before they have given me mine. Even to the extent that other chasers have realised and commented on it. They don’t make it into the log either…

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Whatever annoys us when we are activating, be it false S2S calls, inadequate exhanges or whatever, at the end of the day we have full jurisdiction over what goes into our logs. Make a note of the transgressor and make sure they end up “not in log”.


I’ve had 2 this afternoon:

I was trying to exchange reports with a station and he kept calling his callsign, then said thanks for the 53 report and the summit, 73. I gave the other station 52, maybe there was someone else on the frequency who I couldn’t hear but I suspect not.

Another on FT8 of all things, a station in Hawaii sent RR73 twice but nothing else while I was part way through working a French station. I’d love a contact from GW to Hawaii in 60m but no reports swapped despite trying so not in the log sorry.

It is worth mentioning that the General Rules include provision for dealing with the fakers and nuisances, penalties can include loss of disputed points, temporary exclusion and in extreme cases permanent exclusion and all points being removed from the database.