No reason not to believe you - probably some tropo enhancement going on between you and the transmitter location. When I was active on the VHF/UHF weak signal amateur bands, I have worked hundreds of miles on tropo enhancement. If you get a good tropo duct going, the signals are fantastic - at that time I lived in Michigan (EN84ij) and worked a station in northern New York on 1296MHz SSB with just 5w output at my end into a loop yagi at about 35'.
Being it was digital and cutting in and out - that tells me that is was most likely tropo enhancement as the signal strength varies rapidly. Good DX catch!
Dennis - WB0WAO
VX-150/Wouxun KG-UV2D/Moto GM350/Moto Saber I, Ie, II/Moto HT1000
Kenwood TM271A/Moto GM300 2m & 70cm/Moto VHF Spectra