Since her grandmother Lesley’s death, 22-year-old Sheri Emerson had been sending texts to her to help comfort her.
The family thought operator, O2 had terminated the number. But Ms Emerson, from South Tyneside, was left in shock when a reply flashed up saying: “It’s all going to get better. Just push through.”
Her uncle, Graham rang the number and discovered a man had been using the number for a few weeks.
O2 said if a number is disconnected it is placed in a general pool for recycling.