Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Gus_Smedstad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    1,438

    Talking to thieves

    Last night, shortly after midnight, I got a phone call from Los Angeles. I get a lot of phone spam, so I let the answering machine pick it up. Here's the message the caller left on my answering machine:

    "Hi, this message is intended to contact you." (Really? How novel.) "My name is David Gray, and I'm calling regarding an enforcement action against you by the US Treasury <mumble mumble> attention. Ignoring this will be an intentional <mumble mumble> a magistrate judge or a grand jury or a federal criminal offense. My number is 323-540-5612. I'd like you to cooperate with us, and help us help you."

    This is of course an IRS impersonation scam. It doesn't mention my name, because it's a robo call. A badly recorded robo call in this case, since there was a distinct echo, and the caller had an odd accent. I've gotten a couple of these before, though those were done with speech synthesizers, and this was a script I hadn't heard before. It's word-for-word identical with one that you can find in IRS scam reports on the internet, right down to the specific false name. Not that the US Treasury department calls anyone at midnight.

    The thing I realized afterward was that I was listening to the voice of someone trying to steal from me. I'm listening to a thief. There's a dedicated government web page for reporting these calls because they're so common, and I used it.

    There's something a bit more personal about a scam phone than something like a Nigerian email scam. Though I guess it's functionally the same, since he's mass-calling people, and doesn't even have the name of the people he's threatening. Even so, I'd like to imagine police breaking down his door right now, even though I know that's not happening since these sort of things don't move quickly. This specific scam has apparently been around for months.

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus icupnimpn2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    1,103
    There are some reports of these calls where VOIP users spoof the caller ID to show them as coming from a police department.

    These calls are all evil, but my wife keeps getting some from different numbers claiming to be from "CPS." The "CPS" any parent worries about is "Child Protective Services."

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    4,182
    Working from home I get a shitload of scam calls during the day, mostly they are from 'Windows Support Centre' asking me to download dodgy software because they've discovered I have a virus (in a heavy Indian accent)! The really sad thing is it's old and naive people that get ripped off, spending hundreds of pounds on fake antivirus software.

    Have given them an earful before, have strung them along until they hang up swearing at me, have asked if they realise they are scamming old and vulnerable people, that it's sad and they should look for other means of employment. These days I just don't bother picking up the house phone during working hours unless I happen to be next to it.

    As far as I can tell this sort of thing has been going on for years. Have had other calls from more locally accented scammers pretending to be HMRC but the vast majority are 'Windows Support Centre'. Presumably it's much harder to clamp down when the scams are coming from overseas.

  4. #4
    Just say you have an iMac next time.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    4,182
    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    Just say you have an iMac next time.
    Have actually tried that before, doesn't seem to put them off. :S

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Eight Rooks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    UK, Derby
    Posts
    3,575
    Quote Originally Posted by Rizlar View Post
    Working from home I get a shitload of scam calls during the day, mostly they are from 'Windows Support Centre' asking me to download dodgy software because they've discovered I have a virus (in a heavy Indian accent)! The really sad thing is it's old and naive people that get ripped off, spending hundreds of pounds on fake antivirus software.

    Have given them an earful before, have strung them along until they hang up swearing at me, have asked if they realise they are scamming old and vulnerable people, that it's sad and they should look for other means of employment. These days I just don't bother picking up the house phone during working hours unless I happen to be next to it.

    As far as I can tell this sort of thing has been going on for years. Have had other calls from more locally accented scammers pretending to be HMRC but the vast majority are 'Windows Support Centre'. Presumably it's much harder to clamp down when the scams are coming from overseas.
    The specifically Indian-based scams; IIRC they shut down one of the biggest companies who were getting rich off that a while back. There was a very lengthy article on the guy, how his company got to be so big and how it ultimately got brought down, which was well worth reading but I can't find which tech site it was on. >_< ArsTechnica definitely have several more features on the different people (of various different nationalities) who've had a go at it over the years, mind.
    Smashwords (free stories I wrote) | Steam | Tumblr (reviews, games crit etc.)

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fanbuoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    The Capital of Scandinavia
    Posts
    1,406
    Quote Originally Posted by Rizlar View Post
    Working from home I get a shitload of scam calls during the day, mostly they are from 'Windows Support Centre' asking me to download dodgy software because they've discovered I have a virus (in a heavy Indian accent)! The really sad thing is it's old and naive people that get ripped off, spending hundreds of pounds on fake antivirus software.
    Hey, I talked to those guys a while back! They called my mom, but it was all a bit technical for her, so luckily I was in the house at the time. I went with the stringing along shtick until I tired and told them to fuck off. That was a few years ago, so perhaps they were the ones who were shut down.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Gus_Smedstad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    1,438
    I've gotten that call from "Windows" before. I knew perfectly well what they were up to, and didn't have the patience to screw with them, so I just hung up while they were still halfway through their initial spiel.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus karaquazian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    england
    Posts
    2,054
    There's a thing in UK now where they can put a "bad pixel" in an image in a spam email that somehow let's them work out your region / city and your isp, that then let's them later make a very probable support call.

    Lesson is anyone rings you, insist on ringing back after getting the official support number for the company (not the one they tell you on phone).
    Other lesson anyone contacting you to sell you some shit is probably a con.

  10. #10
    Moderator alms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    9,417
    Quote Originally Posted by karaquazian View Post
    There's a thing in UK now where they can put a "bad pixel" in an image in a spam email that somehow let's them work out your region / city and your isp, that then let's them later make a very probable support call.
    Web bugs (traditionally 1x1 "invisible" images) aren't exactly a new thing, once the server receives a request to load the embedded image, the user's IP is collected (assuming no proxy or other stuff in the middle), which can be then fairly easily traced back to a physical location, although I've often found this information to be inaccurate, it may be enough for spam?

    GMail has long deployed image proxying to stop bugs. You can see both points being touched in this (random) post from 2013 I just dug up:

    https://wordtothewise.com/2013/12/gm...proxy-servers/

    A better approach would be to blacklist all third-party content and work through a whitelist.
    The Onward March of Bundles - filling your backlog since 1911. For a list of active deals, and more, click here.
    Stalk my Steam profile, or follow my fight against the backlog on HowLongToBeat.

    "You take the Klingon's detached hand"

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,926
    I served as a juror on a grand theft trial dealing with someone who scammed people out of money in person. It was a variation of the Nigerian prince hustle, combined with a Jamaican switch. The trial lasted three weeks and it was quite depressing to hear testimony from person after person (most of them seniors) detailed how they were scammed. It got to the point that we jurors knew what the witnesses would say before they said it, that's how down pat the scammers had their hustle. The most disgusting part though was the defense arguing that the victims of these hustles were actually trying to scam someone they thought was a poor ignorant foreigner. The whole thing made me feel icky.
    The Medallion of the Imperial Psychopath, a Napoleon: Total War AAR
    For the Emperor!, a Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai AAR
    The Red Blades, a Battle Brothers AAR

  12. #12
    Lesser Hivemind Node Matt_W's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    San Diego, CA, USA
    Posts
    802
    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    The most disgusting part though was the defense arguing that the victims of these hustles were actually trying to scam someone they thought was a poor ignorant foreigner. The whole thing made me feel icky.
    I've found, on the two juries I've served on, that it's important to remember that the defense is legally and morally obligated to provide the best defense they can for their clients, even if they think they're guilty as hell and even if they think what they've done is indefensible. I served on a trial for a robbery that involved someone running into a jewelry store and grabbing a bunch of gold chains. Because his client was pleading not guilty, the defense attorney did his utter best to construct a plausible narrative where this was true. The trial ended when the defendant changed his plea to avoid having to take the stand and reveal that he had a prior robbery conviction upon cross-examination. After the trial, his lawyers for both sides discussed the trial with the jury outside the courtroom, and it seemed clear that neither really believed the defendant was innocent of the crime, but they also both were certain that the shop owner was vastly inflating the value of the stolen goods.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Gus_Smedstad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    1,438
    Quote Originally Posted by Fumarole View Post
    The most disgusting part though was the defense arguing that the victims of these hustles were actually trying to scam someone they thought was a poor ignorant foreigner.
    There's a Barry B. Longyear story in which a character states that grifters rely on the greed of their victims. That they're always conning someone who thinks they can get something for nothing. The mark is reluctant to call a halt when things get hinky because they think they're going to make money. The Nigerian Prince scam is very much about that, since the mark is promised a large amount of money to act as a financial middle man.

    I don't think the rule is always true, however. I once got taken by a short con in a parking lot. The stranger asked me if I had jumper cables, since his car was dead. In fact I did, but he managed to turn the conversation into asking for $5 for a cab instead, which I gave him. At no point was I going to benefit from the transaction, I got taken purely because I was willing to help. I really should have put the brakes on once he was no longer talking about a jump start, but I was in "I am helping you" mode by that point, and not thinking quickly.

    I've seen the "my car is dead" scam twice since in person. Both cases were easier to avoid. Scammer #1 started with asking for "money for a cab." Scammer #2 asked if she could use my AAA card, and immediately said something about how she was wearing nice clothes and therefor was not scamming me. That was amusing because it was such a dead giveaway, only a con artist would bring that up - if you're well off and well dressed, you take what you're wearing for granted.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fumarole's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    California
    Posts
    3,926
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt_W View Post
    I've found, on the two juries I've served on, that it's important to remember that the defense is legally and morally obligated to provide the best defense they can for their clients, even if they think they're guilty as hell and even if they think what they've done is indefensible.
    The rational part of me knows and accepts this. The emotional side, seeing these accusations directed at seniors from what was an obviously guilty defendant (he testified during the trial, a huge mistake), did not react well at all.
    The Medallion of the Imperial Psychopath, a Napoleon: Total War AAR
    For the Emperor!, a Total War: Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai AAR
    The Red Blades, a Battle Brothers AAR

  15. #15
    Network Hub
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    427
    I've used the TPS service to block most nuisance calls, for myself and my grand-parents. It's not a 100% fix, but i saw my calls drop by about 90%. This article in the guardian might be of interest/help to some:

    'How to block nuisance calls':

    https://www.theguardian.com/money/20...ce-calls-phone

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Gus_Smedstad's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Posts
    1,438
    Since this thread is about scammers, things like the Telephone Preference Service or in the US the Do Not Call list don't apply. Grifters don't care about those.

  17. #17
    Network Hub
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    427
    Another option is to have a phone that can display the incoming number with an option of an automatic block list (or whatever you call that). I got one so when a number tries to call me that i do not 'know' (as in is already in my contact list) or is a flagged as 'spam' number, it simply hangs up the call. With that and TPS and being ex-directory (very important that one!), i get zero cold calls these days.

    Oh, and you will need to change your number for all this! So it is a bit of a pain, needing to contact everyone and give them the correct new number etc, but as a 'Nuke from Orbit' option has been very effective!

  18. #18
    Network Hub Koobazaur's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    The Fridge
    Posts
    442
    I'm going through the apartment hunting hell in Seattle right now and just got my first obvious scam, my search is officially christianed!
    Comrade, Listen! The Glorious Commonwealth's first Airship has been compromised! Who is the saboteur? Who can be saved? Uncover what the passengers are hiding and write the grisly conclusion of its final hours in an open-ended, player-driven adventure. Dziekujemy! -- Karaski: What Goes Up...

  19. #19
    Obscure Node
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Posts
    10
    The windows tech support scammerts usually hang up after my
    "You are going to ask me to drop into DOS - open a command prompt window - then type in a url because you want me to blindly download a client program without looking at the website in a browser to see what version I am getting - all because you claim you detected a virus on my computer that has somehow escaped malwarebytes and lurked since my most recent regular reformat and install from scratch on this computer's hard drive - shall I continue or do you want to hang up now?"

    My favorite is the scam phishing emails. A small amount of digging lets you see where the scam sends info to the database and some simple scripting can flood that database with a bunch of random garbage. Similar digging lets me spam flood the banking links (where they send card info for processing) of spamming online drugstores when they offer no unsubscribe that actually works. Scammers and spammers rarely have any defenses in place and if the mole pops up I am going to whack it. (I am retired and get my entertainment wherever it presents itself.)

    The simple "begging for money calls" (about 10 cents of every dollar donated will trickle down to your local police or fire etc community projects unofficial side activities and the rest goes to the commission structure with half of it staying with the caller and the manager in the room - usually a 1 room temporary office space for each month or so long project) use the same sort of manipulative tactics and repetition to go after your money.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •