How some spam call frauds work

Like most people, I ignore calls that come from people whom I do not know, presuming them to be either marketing spam or attempts at fraud. But sadly, there is a small percentage of people, many of them older, who answer them and fall for the fraud and can lose thousands of dollars that they can ill afford.

How can it be that people are duped into sending cash to others they do not know? This video explains how some of these frauds work and of the efforts to track the scammers down and apprehend them. The makers of the video put in a lot of detective work to identify the fraudsters and hand the evidence over to the authorities.

The frauds are pretty sophisticated and the scammers proliferate so that shutting down one operation does not end the practice. As the video says at the end, the only way to really stop these frauds is by making as many people aware of these frauds as possible so that the pool of victims becomes vanishingly small.


  1. Myra Greenwood says

    Some may be having the beginning of Alzheimer’s and that makes them easier victims.

  2. jrkrideau says

    The day-before-yesterday I got my regular call from the “Services Canada Legal Department” threatening me with various evils because of my tax situation. They are not very convincing but determined.

    OTOH, about 6 months ago, I got a call and then a follow-up call claiming to be from a former employer’s pension department which hints at some serious security problems somewhere. The caller even supplied me with the correct corporate inquiry telephone number. I hope the corporation followed up on my report.

  3. Nimal G Gunatilleke says

    Thank you Mano. This was was quite informative. I too deal with many many calls from sources unknown and I block up to 5 calls every day

  4. prl says

    jrkrideau @2 I’ve been getting regular threatening calls from “Services Australia” (who actually do exist, but don’t manage personal taxation) telling me that my “Tax Identification Number” (which doesn’t exist: I have a Tax File Number -- TFN) has been suspended (which I don’t think is a thing, even if they were talking about a TFN -- it’s just an id, and the tax office would continue to use it if I was in breach of tax law), and if I didn’t press 1 to talk to them an arrest warrant would be issued in my name within 30 minutes.
    And anyway, last tax return, they owed me money 😀

  5. Holms says

    I enjoy stringing those callers along, if they call when I have the time. I get a kick out of their anger 20, 30 minutes later when they figure out I am just wasting their time. The last guy called me a “fucking motherfuck!”, which was heartwarming of him.

  6. publicola says

    Holms, my brother does this all the time, and it brings him no end of joy. I don’t have the patience for it, but I wish I did.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    I used to just hang up. Then I’d try to be helpful to string them along. My favourite one of those was when a chap tried to help with the claim I could make about the collision that wasn’t my fault. When he asked for the date of the collision, I gave him that day’s date and a time about two minutes before he rang. He just hung up.

    Lately my preferred method started when a lady rang me asking about a marketing survey that would take two minutes of my time. It took considerably less time to ask her what she was wearing, at which point she immediately hung up. Sad indictment of the state of society that she knew where that was going. The second was slightly slower on the uptake and had to have the concept spelled out -- “what sort of clothes have you got on?”. THEN she hung up. The third caller actually asked why I needed to know, so I said “How am I supposed to masturbate to the sound of your voice if I can’t picture you while I’m doing it?”.

    He really didn’t like that. He swore at me quite a bit before he hung up.

    Surprisingly, since that third call the spam calls to my number have dried up almost completely. I think I might be on a list. Or a register.

  8. garnetstar says

    As Mano said, the only way to try to cut the damage down is to make as many people as possible aware of the scams that are out there.

    But, we’ll never get rid of it entirely. I think that, unfortunately, any human can be scammed, if it’s the right kind of scam fot *them*. Certainly many people’s brains just don’t work in the way that the common kinds of scams would scam them (although, as we see, the scammers run those kinds because they do work with many other people’s brains.) But, I think that if someone tried hard enough, and knew the potential victime well enough, they could find a scam that would work with any individual, even if it had to be tailored to work with just that one person.

    I usually just hang up because I don’t have the time to string them along, although that’s fun. But once, I actually got a scammer to hang up on me! They invited me to join “the Canadian lottery”, which made me just spontanerously burst into loud continuous laughter, interspersed with shrieks of “The Candian lottery!!!”, that went on so long that they couldn’t get in another word, so they hung up. Never did call back, either.

  9. jrkrideau says

    @ 4 prl
    Oh, Service Canada exists just as “Services Australia” does. OTOH I worked for the Federal Government for 10 years and occasionally worked with Revenue Canada, etc.. The scam is obvious to me. Not so for a lot of people with no experience of the government and in some cases poor English or French.

  10. xohjoh2n says

    You just don’t hear about this much in the UK -- I’ve certainly never received a phone call anything like this. Maybe Ofcom actually works.

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