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Old 04-16-2021, 08:43 PM   #1
frankbell
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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.
 
Old 04-16-2021, 09:26 PM   #2
cwizardone
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Excellent.
Thanks for the link.
 
Old 04-16-2021, 10:22 PM   #3
frankbell
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You are most welcome.

As an aside, the AARP website is an excellent source of information about the scams of the day.
 
Old 04-19-2021, 03:32 AM   #4
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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...
 
Old 04-23-2021, 04:36 PM   #5
Randymanme
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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?
 
Old 04-23-2021, 04:53 PM   #6
Emerson
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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.
 
Old 04-24-2021, 08:25 AM   #7
teckk
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There is a man on utube that does this.

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCm22FAXZMw1BaWeFszZxUKw
 
Old 04-27-2021, 01:10 PM   #8
jsbjsb001
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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...
 
Old 04-27-2021, 01:47 PM   #9
Emerson
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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.
 
Old 04-29-2021, 01:09 AM   #10
ondoho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsbjsb001 View Post
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?
 
Old 04-29-2021, 11:04 AM   #11
cwizardone
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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.

Last edited by cwizardone; 04-29-2021 at 11:10 AM. Reason: Typo.
 
Old 04-29-2021, 12:00 PM   #12
cwizardone
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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.
 
Old 04-29-2021, 12:44 PM   #13
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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.
 
Old 04-29-2021, 12:53 PM   #14
cwizardone
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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.
 
Old 04-30-2021, 09:54 PM   #15
obobskivich
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teckk View Post
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.
 
  


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