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D J RobertsD J Roberts 

Adding '+' in front of phone number runs SOSL but removal of '+' causes null reference

I have a method that takes a phone number. For the purposes of this thread, I'll call mySOSLMethod(String phone); 
 It runs this code: 
mySOSLMethod(String phone){
List<List<SObject>> phoneRecords = [
FIND :phone IN PHONE FIELDS
RETURNING
Lead(Id, Name, WHERE IsConverted = false),
Contact(Id)
];
// More code follows here....

return phoneRecords;
}


When I try to run this manually, mySOSLMethod('+333222444') it runs successfully but returns an empty list. When I try to use the exact number off the lead record (i.e. '3332224444') the method fails to run and says: 
 
System.NullPointerException: Attempt to de-reference a null object
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,