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frankbell 04-16-2021 08:43 PM

Inside the Robo-call Call Center
 
The latest AARP newsletter (yeah, I'm old) has a fascinating tale of a white-hat who has made a hobby of penetrating, spying on, and sabotaging robo-call call centers, particularly those that focus on tech support scams ("We have detected a problem. Let us connect to your computer and fix it"). As a piece of reading, it drags at times, but I still think it's worth a look. (I think it drags a bit because the author was thinking of the majority of his target audience, which contains the folks most likely to be entrapped by this particular scam, as opposed to a more tech-savvy readership.)

Here's an excerpt:

Quote:

Then one day in 2018, Jim's evening forays took an unexpected turn. A tech support scammer called from India and went through the normal spiel, but then he asked Jim to do something unusual: to log in to the scammer's computer using a remote-access software program called TeamViewer. Later on, Jim found out why: The developers of TeamViewer had discovered that criminals in India were abusing their software, so they temporarily banned its use from computers initiating connections from India. But there was a loophole: It didn't stop scammers from asking U.S. and U.K. consumers like Jim to initiate access into computers in India.

Hence, the scammer's request. The voice on the phone talked Jim through the connection process, then told him to initiate a “switch sides” function so the caller could “be in charge” and look through Jim's computer.

Presented with this opportunity, Jim acted quickly. Instead of “switching sides,” he took control of the criminal's computer and locked the scammer out of his own computer. Lo and behold, mild-mannered programmer Jim Browning had complete access to all of the scammer's files and software. And he was able to see everything the scammer was frantically trying to do to regain control.

cwizardone 04-16-2021 09:26 PM

Excellent.
Thanks for the link.
:thumbsup:

frankbell 04-16-2021 10:22 PM

You are most welcome.

As an aside, the AARP website is an excellent source of information about the scams of the day.

obobskivich 04-19-2021 03:32 AM

I think I caught one of his videos on youtube sometime ago (the story of the woman with the $40,000 'transfer' sounded familiar), but this is a nice article about it (and adds more context) - thanks for sharing. Absolutely surreal...

Randymanme 04-23-2021 04:36 PM

So what else happened? Did Jim ever let the scammer have control of his computer back? Or did Jim contact law enforcement? Did Jim get any money out of the foray (maybe the scammer had no problem paying a ransom. Perhaps Jim rerouted incoming cash flow.

Don't leave me hanging. Or maybe Jim is still having a grand Ole time?

Emerson 04-23-2021 04:53 PM

I just 5 minutes ago received a call about my "expiring car warranty", the caller ID was fake, when I told the "agent" they cannot be legit because if they were they would check the federal no-call list before calling. The guy in the other side started laughing and said there is no such thing as federal no-call list. Well, maybe there isn't in his country, whatever that is, Pakistan or India or whatnot.

teckk 04-24-2021 08:25 AM

There is a man on utube that does this.

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCm22FAXZMw1BaWeFszZxUKw

jsbjsb001 04-27-2021 01:10 PM

I keep getting called by the same scammer, and I still don't know what the scam even is since they don't even speak English. You'd think a scammer would at least speak to you in a language you understand if they really want to have any hope of getting money out of ya. They even leave messages on my messagebank if I don't answer, in what I assume is Mandarin. What, am I supposed to do all the work for them?! They are bloody lazy, or at least this one is anyway.

Yeah well, good luck getting any money out of me if they expect me to do all the work. Some people just aren't cut out for crime...

Emerson 04-27-2021 01:47 PM

As much as I understand they use some automated calling system and if victim picks up then the system connects to some low-paid hired help on the other side of planet who then tries to do whatever they are hired to do. I believe they hire people from regions where the value of money is different, paying pennies for a day's job. They use fake caller ID's making them look like local call, if you ask them to look out of window and tell how is the weather then they hang up. ;)

ondoho 04-29-2021 01:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jsbjsb001 (Post 6245585)
I keep getting called by the same scammer, and I still don't know what the scam even is since they don't even speak English. You'd think a scammer would at least speak to you in a language you understand if they really want to have any hope of getting money out of ya. They even leave messages on my messagebank if I don't answer, in what I assume is Mandarin. What, am I supposed to do all the work for them?! They are bloody lazy, or at least this one is anyway.

Yeah well, good luck getting any money out of me if they expect me to do all the work. Some people just aren't cut out for crime...

How do you know it's a scammer then?

cwizardone 04-29-2021 11:04 AM

I've been getting the same calls as jsbjsb001.
Well, they finally stopped several months ago after being non-stop for over six years.
They often started with a recording in English saying they are from the Chinese Consulate or some division of a major bank, etc., and then played a recorded message in one of the two main Chinese delects. The text messages were usually addressed to a, Miaoling.
A search on the 'Net revealed it is a well known scam. They call saying someone in your family has been arrested in the "old country" and you need to send xxxx amount of money to secure their release. As I said, these messages finally stopped during the Wuhan flu pandemic, although I still, on ocassion, get an text message addressed to Miaoling.

cwizardone 04-29-2021 12:00 PM

Just received a new scam robo-call. It was a recorded message saying "they" were from the drug and border protection agency (doesn't exist) and a package, addressed to me, containing drugs and contraband has been seized at the border. Press one to speak to an agent.
I pressed disconnect.
:)

teckk 04-29-2021 12:44 PM

I put a call/text block app on my phone years ago, from fdroid.

Made myself a whitelist. If you are not in the whitelist, you can't call/text me. It keeps a log of blocked calls/texts. I can look at that periodically to see if I missed anything that I may want to call back.

If I go to the lumber yard and order something for delivery, and they tell me that we'll call you when it's ready, I ask them what number are you going to call from so that I can put you in my whitelist. Not kidding.

May be a little inconvenient, and you may miss a call that you wanted to answer every now and then, and you will have to call them back and apologize. Never had anyone get mad at me. Everyone understands it.

I have not had a spam call in 5 years I bet, to buy house windows, fix my windows pc, I owe the internal revenue service, great credit consolidation offer, this is the police and we will arrest you, you have won money, your child is in jail, your car warranty has expired, we caught you looking at porn,...

Let me see if I can find that. (Not a 20 year old, don't change phones every 6 months.) Here it is.

https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com....rin.blacklist/

Simple little app. If you don't like this one, get another one.

It blocks everything, except that in your whitelist, if you want it to. Or you can make a blacklist, which is about worthless, because they are using phone over IP and rotate their number, which isn't real to start with.

cwizardone 04-29-2021 12:53 PM

Good to know.
If I don't know the number I, usually, just don't answer the phone. If it is important, they will leave a message.
I've been expecting a call, so I did answer this morning.

obobskivich 04-30-2021 09:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by teckk (Post 6246278)
I put a call/text block app on my phone years ago, from fdroid.

Made myself a whitelist. If you are not in the whitelist, you can't call/text me. It keeps a log of blocked calls/texts. I can look at that periodically to see if I missed anything that I may want to call back.

If I go to the lumber yard and order something for delivery, and they tell me that we'll call you when it's ready, I ask them what number are you going to call from so that I can put you in my whitelist. Not kidding.

May be a little inconvenient, and you may miss a call that you wanted to answer every now and then, and you will have to call them back and apologize. Never had anyone get mad at me. Everyone understands it.

I have not had a spam call in 5 years I bet, to buy house windows, fix my windows pc, I owe the internal revenue service, great credit consolidation offer, this is the police and we will arrest you, you have won money, your child is in jail, your car warranty has expired, we caught you looking at porn,...

Let me see if I can find that. (Not a 20 year old, don't change phones every 6 months.) Here it is.

https://f-droid.org/en/packages/com....rin.blacklist/

Simple little app. If you don't like this one, get another one.

It blocks everything, except that in your whitelist, if you want it to. Or you can make a blacklist, which is about worthless, because they are using phone over IP and rotate their number, which isn't real to start with.

FWIW: AT&T sells a landline phone with similar functionality baked in - works just as well, if folks were curious for an 'at home' solution. Has worked quite well for the last few years imho - it does offer an 'on-demand whitelist' (for lack of a better explanation) where the caller can say their name (or really say anything) and it will ring through and play their message and allow you to accept/decline the call (think about how a collect call works) - I've never once found a spammer that gets through that, but it works well for the 'go to the lumberyard' situation.

ondoho 05-01-2021 01:49 AM

I just listened to a podcast about phone scams (the above mentioned AARP's The Perfect Scam).
I was surprised at how big a problem this seems to be in the US of North A (or possible all English-speaking countries?). I think I can count on one hand the number of actual phone scams I have received in my whole adult life.
There's the occasional salesperson trying to sell something, but nothing on the scale described (a few times a year, maybe once a week on our work phone); and even though I don't like it, they are actual salespeople, not scammers.

cwizardone 05-01-2021 10:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ondoho (Post 6246786)
....
I was surprised at how big a problem this seems to be in the US of North A (or possible all English-speaking countries?). I think I can count on one hand the number of actual phone scams I have received in my whole adult life.....

On the 30th or 31st of October 2019, I received 25 or 26 robo-calls and/or text messages. That is NOT an exaggeration! The pandemic put an end to most of it, but "they" are starting to pick up again. Over this last week there were 12 calls and a handful of text messages.
And, yes, my number is on the National "Do Not Call" List.

scasey 05-01-2021 10:35 AM

We get 5 to 10 every day on each of our two land lines. 2 to 3 daily on each of our two cell phones. (sigh)

ondoho 05-01-2021 11:03 AM

^ Ok, what about Britain, Australia, Ireland etc.?

teckk 05-01-2021 02:05 PM

It's been bad here for 10 years. Which is why I block everything. If you answer them once, and hang up, they know that you are there, and they will put you on a list to keep calling. If you never answer, they call for 2 or 3 days, 2 or three times a day, then quit for a few weeks. I haven't answered them for years.

Been commercials on TV and radio for years telling people that the IRS, Police, Banks, Post office, that "we" don't call you like that. You would think that everyone would know that by now. But apparently not. The fact that they keep calling tells me that they are still able to scam some people for money.

When you hear the supposed lawful revenue collectors of a state, telling you on the phone that you owe money, and that you need to jump through some hoops, get a gift card from a store and then.... That should be a clue. If they were the lawful revenue authority, then they would freeze your bank account, garnish your wages etc. They don't need to mess around and threaten you. They get an order from a court of law and freeze your assets.

teckk 05-01-2021 05:15 PM

If you can name it, they will try it.

A few short examples/warnings.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zP9VAyfj6iI
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Dab1uNDqAGs
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wzypSggyKjg
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IDUu2-MvK-E
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KWsLAn6m_04
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_VcBBIGs36k
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=je9_cSPtXyM
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=k_5usyHKAlQ
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NGoRQzUFPmc

jsbjsb001 05-02-2021 10:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by teckk (Post 6246994)
...
When you hear the supposed lawful revenue collectors of a state, telling you on the phone that you owe money, and that you need to jump through some hoops, get a gift card from a store and then.... That should be a clue. If they were the lawful revenue authority, then they would freeze your bank account, garnish your wages etc. They don't need to mess around and threaten you. They get an order from a court of law and freeze your assets.

You'd think so wouldn't you? But people still fall for it...

Even at the supermarket I go to, they have a notice near the cash register saying something like "no legitimate business or government department or agency would ever ask you to pay by gift cards. If they are, it's a scam!".

I really don't personally understand how people can't see it's a scam if someone is asking you to pay them with gift cards, it's baffling to me how that isn't a red flag straight off the bat. :scratch:

Your post reminds me of another call I got (this time in English) saying something about the "legal department" of the government agency that does drivers licenses here... I hung up straight away. Haven't heard anything since...

In any case, and at least here in Australia if it's the police, they'll physically come to your house and show ID if they want to talk to you about something, or send an actual letter to you via the post if you've requested a police check or something similar and it's not in relation to a crime they think you've committed. Any other government agency here will send you an actual letter via the post if you owe money to the government. They won't ring you up out of the blue and ask you to pay them in gift cards.

hazel 05-02-2021 11:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ondoho (Post 6246933)
^ Ok, what about Britain, Australia, Ireland etc.?

There's a lot of it in the UK. Most of the ones that I get are robots that hang up as soon as I lift the phone but occasionally I get a recording from "your internet provider" or more specifically "BT Internet" (who are not my internet provider btw) threatening to cut off my access because they've detected illegal activity. I have also had a couple from "HMRC" telling me that I will get a criminal record if I don't pay my overdue taxes. Funnily enough the HMRC ones often come in an American accent. The civil service must be in a pretty desperate state since I left it!

Some people will probably ask why I pick up the phone. The answer is that I have an old-fashioned phone without caller display and I need to check that a call isn't actually from someone I would want to talk to. I don't think it costs me anything to pick up the receiver and put it down again. The only thing that really annoys me is if it rings when I am upstairs and I end up coming down for no reason.

ondoho 05-02-2021 03:09 PM

^ thanks hazel, and indirectly jsb001.
So it seems to be an issue in other (at least English-speaking) countries as well.
I must truly be living in a paradise, unspoiled by the harshness that is phone scams.

Emerson 05-02-2021 05:27 PM

Scamming simpletons seems to be flourishing business. I was bored once and I put an ad to Craigslist, computer repair. I got a bunch of callers, 100% scam. All of them tried to pay me with a larger check and requested part of it paid back to them in cash. Those scammers wouldn't be out there if people didn't fall for them.

ondoho 05-03-2021 01:32 AM

^ That's how they cut their teeth I suppose - on craigslist and similar sites.
I guess I got in contact with such (amateur) scammers over the years. Not necessarily over the phone; I find it best to ask many questions - it will soon reveal their true nature, at which point I tell them what I think of them in no uncertain terms.

hazel 05-06-2021 06:04 AM

This came in just now on my landline
Quote:

Thank you for placing an order with Amazon. You have been charged £300.
I didn't wait to hear what I was supposed to do about it. As if I'd ever use Amazon anyway!

cwizardone 05-17-2021 05:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cwizardone (Post 6246256)
..........
They often started with a recording in English saying they are from the Chinese Consulate or some division of a major bank, etc., and then played a recorded message in one of the two main Chinese delects. The text messages were usually addressed to a, Miaoling..........

These calls started again today. Oh, well, it was a nice break while it lasted.

Trihexagonal 06-02-2021 02:29 PM

That makes my day when they call. I get to do some random of the top of my head improvisation and acting.

I like to go frantic on them. Microsoft Tech Support called me once to inform me I had a virus on my PC. My FreeBSD Thinkpads, that is.

I said "Oh, no! I probably got it watching porn. Go to google and search elephant porn. You're there? What do you see? Porn? I bet you've got the same virus on your machine as I do mine. Click."

I've got a couple calls recently about strange activity with my SS#. "OH EM GEE! What's it done now? That crazy number... How much is it going to cost me to bail it out this time? It didn't involve looking up someones dress this time, did it? That was so embarrassing. My name? Well if you have my SS# you have my name then, don't you? You ignorant %$&*)$#"

hazel 06-04-2021 05:28 AM

I think I've just come across a new one. At least it's one I haven't met before. Some of you might be able to enlighten me.

I got a call from a young woman with an MLE accent telling me that the insurance cover on my washing machine is running out and ought to be renewed. Now my memory is not what it was, but I'm pretty sure that I never had any kind of insurance on that machine. It's quite old; it might even go back to my mother's time! Any built-in cover would have run out after a year or two, and I never buy extra cover for appliances because I don't think it's worth the price they charge. So I think this was a scam.

PS I just googled and found this reference: https://conversation.which.co.uk/mon...ld-call-scams/. It seems my instincts were correct.

hazel 06-08-2021 05:05 AM

My first bank scam! I've heard so much about this one but I never experienced it myself before today. A very nice, soothing male voice said he was ringing from Hammersmith police station. They had just arrested two men who were using my bank card fraudulently. If I had played along, I suppose I would have been guided into opening a new account and transferring all my money into it. I told him he was a scammer and hung up. When I dialled 1471 to check the caller's number, it was "withheld". Needless to say, he didn't ring back.

My card is safely in my wallet upstairs. Of course it could, in theory, have been cloned, but I don't think so.

I found https://www.ageuk.org.uk/barnet/our-.../latest-scams/ which seems to be exactly the approach that was made to me, except that I didn't hang on long enough to get put through to the "secure line".

business_kid 06-08-2021 09:13 AM

Anecdotally, there's very few robo-calls tried here, as they get little/nothing. They are used for sales, and some of them play recordings to avoid interruptions.

The last mildly successful one was a message from a major bank saying your account had been frozen, and log in hereIt was a .com site, whereas businesses use .ie urls. People didn't check, the scammers cleaned them out, but the bank refunded. I wasn't with that particular bank.

Generally, it's the younger savvier age group who are contactable by phone/internet, whereas older ones are easier to scam.

hazel 06-08-2021 09:18 AM

In the UK, phone scams are often targeted at old people whereas younger people are more likely to get phishing emails or texts. I think a lot of people of my generation are not online.


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