In recent months and even weeks, the telcos are getting better at identifying scam calls, which I think is a result of a recent communications act. More and more scam calls are identified as "possible SCAM call" on my phone. Of course, I can tell they are scams, as they are from Northern Virginia area codes, which is designed to trick me into thinking they are from a friend or someone I know locally, as my phone has a Northern Virginia area code as well. The joke is on them, though, I haven't lived there in over a decade, so getting a phone call from area code 703 is a sure sign of a scam (the people I do know from NoVa are in my contacts list, so it is easy to spot them!).
That being said, I am sure they will find a way around this latest hurdle. The scammers are like our squirrels. You can put up obstacles and "squirrel-proof" feeders all you want, they just figure out ways around the latest obstacle. It is like the CAPCHA anti-robot pictures, you are just training the neural net with each response. The shit never ends.
Recently, I have been getting such calls from 800-numbers. I got one the other day, and curious (which killed the cat) I called back and got a weird answering machine message (that sounded like someone was recording it on their phone) saying I should have received a survey from "my health care provider" about CoVid-19 and I should visit my "Health Care Provider Website" to fill out the survey. Well, Ambetter had no such survey, so I am not sure what they are talking about, and the recording is so cheesy that I have to think it is a scam of some sort - the call-back number sounds legit but in fact, isn't.
The fact that the people on the answering machine don't identify themselves or their organization is pretty much key. If this was legit, they would at least say they were from the CDC or whatever. Oh, shit, I just gave the scammers an idea. Sorry!
I looked up the number online and found this interesting entry, which reads like a white paper on phone scammers. By the way, I am not sure I would recommend "robokiller" or any other service that you pay money for, to spike robo-calls. Like I said, the telcos are doing a better job of identifying scam calls (so hard to do - they can detect when a phone number is spoofed). And in the future, I suspect these sorts of calls will become even easier to identify - if we light a fire under the telcos. Letting them sell us a "no scams, please" service only incentivizes them to allow for scam calls.
Anyway, I thought his approach was interesting, but swearing in Hindi is tricky:
Fake "Medicare Health Center", "Medicare Options", "Medicare Rewards", "Medicare Advantage", "Senior Benefits", "American Benefits", "Insurance Solutions", "Insurance Enrollment Center", or "Health IQ" Medicare and life insurance scam by criminals phoning from the Philippines.This is a massive and widespread identity theft, health insurance, and Medicare healthcare scam by Puta'ng Ina Ka criminals calling from the Philippines using thousands of different spoofed phone numbers and mainly preying on seniors to steal your credit card number, Medicare and Social Security numbers, and personal information to commit Medicare fraud and identity theft under the pretense of saying that they will help you obtain health insurance, Medicare supplement plans, and burial expense or life insurance.This Filipino scammer, with more women than men in their overseas phone room, asks for you by your name to sound like a personal phone call to gain your trust, but they are randomly auto-dialing everyone. Scammers use huge phone database listings of millions of names with phone numbers and addresses to have the autodialer display the name that is currently dialed. If you decline their fake scam, they sometimes threaten you, saying that you need their fake insurance or else you can be arrested or fined.This call center also runs a similar auto insurance scam, pretending to be either Allstate, Farmers, State Farm, or tries to sell you fake car insurance, or car or home warranties, or pretends to be a fake loan company or fake debt collector.
About 65% of North America scam calls come from India and 30% come from the Philippines. India scammers run hundreds of fraud, extortion, and money laundering scams every day such as posing as a fake pharmacy, fake Social Security officer saying your benefits are suspended, IRS officer collecting on fake unpaid back taxes, debt collector threatening you for fake unpaid bills, fake bank/financial/FedEx/UPS/DHL scams, pretending to offer fake health insurance, car warranty, student loan forgiveness, credit card and debt consolidation services, posing as Amazon to falsely say an unauthorized purchase was made to your credit card or your Prime membership was auto-debited from your bank, posing as Microsoft/Dell/HP/Apple to say your account has been hacked or they detected a virus on your computer, fake "we are refunding your money" or "your account has been auto-debited" scams, fake Google/Alexa listing and work-from-home scams, posing as electric utilities, Verizon, AT&T, or Comcast, fake solar panel and home purchase offers, fake fundraisers asking for donations, fake phone surveys, and the scammers try to steal your credit card, bank account/routing number, Social Security number, and personal information. A India call center may rotate through a fake Social Security, subscription auto-renewal, pharmacy, and credit card offer scam within one week. Philippines scammers focus more on auto/home/health/life insurance, Social Security and Medicare identity theft.Scammers use disposable VoIP phone numbers (e.g. MagicJack devices) or they spoof fake names and numbers on Caller ID. Anyone can use telecom software to phone with a fake CID name and number. Scammers spoof thousands of fake 8xx toll-free numbers. CID is useless with scam calls unless the scam asks you to phone them back. CID area codes are never the origin of scam calls since scams use spoofed CID numbers from across the US and Canada, numbers belonging to unsuspecting people, invalid area codes, and fake foreign country CID numbers; e.g. fake women crying "help me" emergency scams often spoof Mexico and Middle East CID numbers. Scammers often spoof the actual phone numbers of businesses such as Apple, Verizon, and banks to trick you into thinking the call is valid.How can you avoid being scammed by phone calls? NEVER trust any unsolicited caller who: sells something (most unsolicited calls are scams so your odds of saving money are very poor); asks for your Social Security number; offers a free gift or reward; threatens you with arrest/lawsuit or says you need to reply back soon (pressure tactic); asks you to access a website, download a file, wire transfer money or buy prepaid debit/gift cards; claims suspicious activity on your account; says your subscription is being refunded or auto-renewed/auto-debited; and all pre-recorded messages. Recordings are far more likely to be malicious scams and not just telemarketer spam. All unsolicited callers with foreign accents, usually Indian or Filipino, are mostly scams. Filipino scammers tend to speak better English than Indian scammers. Filipinos speak English with a subtle accent having a slight trill. Scams often say that you inquired about a job, insurance, social security benefits, or that you previously contacted them or visited their website.A common India phone scam uses a fake Amazon recording about a purchase of an iPhone, but Amazon never robo-dials and Amazon account updates are emailed. Many banks use automated fraud alert calls to confirm a suspicious purchase, but always verify the number that the recording tells you to phone or just call the number printed on your credit card.Some scams ask for your credit card for purchase of their fake product or service. The scammer calls you back one day later to say their credit card machine is broken, so you must wire transfer the payment to them. After you have wired the money to them, they still overcharge your credit card after they change phone numbers, so they rob you twice before disappearing. Wire transfers and prepaid debit cards laundered through foreign bank accounts are untraceable.Scammers try to gain your trust by saying your name when they call, but their autodialer automatically displays your name or says your name in a recording when your number is dialed using phone databases that list millions of names and addresses. Scammers often call using an initial recording speaking English, Spanish, or Chinese that is easily generated using text-to-speech translation software to disguise the origin of their India phone room. Some speech synthesis software sound robotic, but others sound natural. To hide their foreign accents, some India scammers use non-Indians in their phone room.Scammers often use interactive voice response (IVR) robotic software that combines voice recognition with artificial intelligence, speaks English with American voices, and responds based on your replies. IVR calls begin with: "Hi, this is fake_name, I am a fake_job_title on a recorded line, can you hear me okay?"; or "Hi, this is fake_name, how are you doing today?"; or "Hello? (pause) Are you there?"; or "Hi, may I speak to your_name?" IVR quickly asks you a short question to elicit a yes/no reply so it hangs up if it encounters voicemail. IVR robots understand basic replies and yes/no answers. To test for IVR, ask "How is the weather over there?" since IVR cannot answer complex questions and it keeps talking if you interrupt it in mid-sentence. IVR usually transfers you to the scammer, but some scams entirely use IVR with the robot asking for your credit card or SSN. A common myth is IVR calls record you saying "yes" so scammers can authorize purchases just using your "yes" voice, but scammers need more than just a recorded "yes" from you - credit cards and SSN.Phone/email scams share two common traits: the CID name/number and the "From:" header on emails are easily faked, and the intent of scam calls is malicious just as file attachments and website links on scam emails are harmful. Scams snowball for many victims. If your personal/financial data are stolen, either by being scammed, visiting a malicious website, or by a previous data breach of a business server that stores your data, then your data gets sold by scammers on the dark web who will see you as fresh meat and prey on you even more. This is why some receive 40+ scam calls everyday while others get 0 to 2 calls per day. If you provide your personal information to a phone scammer, lured by fake 80%-discounted drugs or scared by fake IRS officers, you receive even more phone scams and identity theft can take years to repair.Most unsolicited calls are scams, often with an Indian accent. No other country is infested with pandemics of phone room sweatshops filled with criminals who belong to the lowest India caste and many are thieves and rapists who were serving jail time but released early due to prison overcrowding. Scammers often shout profanities at you. Just laugh at their abusive language. Google "Hindi swear words" and memorize some favorites, e.g. call him "Rundi Ka Bacha" (son of whore) or call her "Rundi Ki Bachi" (daughter of whore). Scammers ignore the National Do-Not-Call Registry; asking scammers to stop calling is useless. You do these scammers a favor by quickly hanging up. But you ruin their scams when you slowly drag them along on the phone call, give them fake personal and credit card data (16 random digits starting with 4 for Visa, 5 for MasterCard), ask them to speak louder and repeat what they said to waste their time and energy.
I looked up "Your mother is a whore" and that translated to वेश्या की संतान - veshya kee santaan not "Rundi Ka Bacha" so I am not sure if his Hindi swearing is on target. In fact, the only place I could find "Rundi Ka Bacha" was in the Urban Dictionary, which I have often found to be full of shit or at least full of sons of whores. But perhaps it is slang. I notice "Rundi Ka Bacha" is the username of several people on social media. They call themselves sons of whores?
The idea of keeping them on the line and frustrating them sounds like fun, but wastes a lot of your time. But perhaps it works. I notice more and more of these scam calls are "hang ups" and perhaps they have a database of time-wasters. So the robo-caller calls me, and when I say "hello?" the computer connects me to a telemarketer whose computer screen shows notes from earlier callers, perhaps something like 'Time wasting rundi ka bacha!" and they hang up, knowing I am not buying an extended warranty or timeshare or whatever.
Of course, Lenny is the king of wasting scammer's time. And there are so many scams out there that old people fall for - the "Windows Tech Support" scam is still going on, I think. The Do Not Call registry turned out to be a bad joke - allowing people to sue directly, those who call them. But of course, you can't sue someone in India, even if you could track them down. And the use of "survey calls" for scams has made us all so suspicious that actual polling data is now skewed badly.
And yes, it may be tempting to play blame the victim when people fall for scams. But as I have noted before, I have been drawn into some scams, at least initially, and if you are not paying attention, it isn't hard to be spoofed by a wrong number or a convincing scammer. As I noted above, it is like programming a neural network - the scammers get more sophisticated and better with each iteration. Meanwhile we get older and more confused. If you plot these two trends on a graph, there is an inevitable intersection point where the scammers get good enough and you get senile enough that, well, they empty your bank account.
You have to hope that intersection point would occur only after you are dead, or that it occurs at a time when you are in the rest home and have no access to a phone, computer, check book, or credit card. Only then are you safe.
So blaming the elderly or the unsophisticated for falling for a scam is pointless. Scammers recently shut down medical computers and indeed, a whole pipeline system, simply by making targeted e-mails directed at employees at the company in question. All it takes is for one single employee to open an attachment in a rogue e-mail, for the entire network to be contaminated. At one law firm I worked at, this happened, and ironically, the person who opened the .exe file was our IT professional.
Curiosity killed the cat, and don't you really want to click on that link or attachment to see if there are really "hot pictures of your wife!" on the Internet?
We've all seen them, you know. Click here to find out!