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My wife and I had a recent encounter with a scammer (specifically, a phisher), and I thought maybe someone might benefit from knowing what happened with us.  Also, others may want to post encounters they (or those they know) have had with scammers.

 

Last week, my wife got a call from some guy claiming to be from Amazon, about a problem with the renewal of our Amazon Prime membership.  This worried her, since the membership renewed already in June with the charge hitting our bank account fine.  He claimed that there was another charge on her account for renewal of a different Amazon Prime membership, and sent her a link for a form to supposedly dispute that charge.  Sometime along the way (I didn't get involved until she had been on the line with him for almost an hour, so I don't know exactly when) he got her to give him remote access to her laptop.  (And you have no idea how mad I was that she allowed that, and didn't tell me until after I got off the phone with him.)  

 

Anyway, he had her fill out the form, but after she did he claimed that she messed something up because, instead of disputing a charge for $99.99, she supposedly got a refund from Amazon for $3,000.  He even had her go onto our online banking and, lo and behold, there was a pending credit for $3,000 on her checking account.  He then tried to get her to send a gift card back to Amazon to "reverse" that erroneous "refund."  It was at this point that I got involved, as I could hear she was quite upset over something, though I didn't know what yet.

 

As soon as my wife told me what was going on, I was instantly suspicious and told her this was almost certainly a scam.  I got on the phone with the "Amazon rep", looked at the account, and despite seeing the pending credit to her checking account, told him that we weren't doing anything until the credit had hard-posted to the account and we had time to talk to the bank to verify where the funds came from.  My wife had already gotten his (fake) name, (fake) Amazon employee number, and (fake) telephone number, so I told him we would call him back the next day to deal with this.  He got very belligerent, saying that I was being "greedy" and trying to "steal" their money.

 

While arguing with him I got curious and looked up his supposed phone number -- it was a New York area code.  Odd, since he claimed to be calling from California.  Even odder, the phone number on our caller ID was an area code from Mississippi.  At that point, I just hung up on him.  He tried calling back once, and I immediately hung up again.  Thankfully, he gave up at that point.

 

After getting off the phone with him, I looked closer at our bank accounts and discovered that the $3,000 was actually a transfer from our own savings account to my wife's checking account.  I'm guessing he slipped that in when she gave him remote access to her laptop, though I have no idea how she didn't see that happen.  Thankfully, he didn't initiate a wire transfer out of our accounts to his own.

 

Of course (using my laptop, not hers) I immediately changed the passwords on her Amazon account as well as our online banking.  I also removed the remote access software he'd had her load onto her laptop, and ran a virus scan and Malwarebytes scan on her laptop.  (Both came up clean.)  She then changed all her other passwords.  I've also made it crystal-clear to her that, in absolutely NO circumstances is she to allow someone remote access to her laptop.  Never, ever, ever.  To be honest, I was livid about that for two days.  She should have known better.

 

I'm thankful that we didn't end up truly getting scammed of all our savings, but shudder to think what could have happened.  

 

 

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When I was ranting to some friends about all of the above, one told me about her mother almost getting scammed out of $5,000.  She said she got a call from her grandson (my friends' son) saying that he had gotten into an accident and needed to be bailed out of jail.  She insisted that he sounded exactly like the grandson, who then put his "lawyer" on the phone to discuss the details.  I don't know the details, but the lawyer was trying to get her to drop off the money - in cash - to him at a nearby CVS.  She was about to do this (?!?!) when her husband intervened and put a stop to it with the simple step of calling their daughter (they couldn't reach their grandson) and getting verification that he wasn't in an accident.  

 

Years ago, one of my aunts told me a very similar story, though the scammer didn't get anywhere close to catching her.  The caller (again, supposedly her grandson) kept calling her "Grandma" which her actual grandson never did - he had his own nickname for her.

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Rule #1:  NO MAJOR PLAYER WILL ACT LIKE THIS.

Rule #2:  NO MAJOR PLAYER WILL ACT LIKE THIS.

Rule #3:  NO MAJOR PLAYER WILL ACT LIKE THIS.

 

NEVER.

 

My near-universal assumption is that any call saying "I'm from...." a bank, Amazon, etc. is a scam.  PERIOD.  Unless I *know* in advance there's an issue...and I can't recall the last time that happened.  Credit card companies will send out fraud alerts about charges...but they'll ask you to contact them.  The first piece of CLEARLY fraudulent intent was the failure to say "we want you to contact us."  Go to the KNOWN SAFE contact point.  

 

Then...absolutely, positively, NO ONE WILL EVER LEGITIMATELY ASK FOR REMOTE ACCESS TO YOUR COMPUTER.  NOT EVER.  They have absolutely no reason to do that.  And these schemes are *insanely* common.  The stories change, but the scam remains the same.  I dropped my voice phone line and went to just a DSL data line (and VOIP for calling) a few years ago, specifically because I was getting 2-3 scam calls every week.  VOIP has FAR better spam filtering than the telephone company land lines.  The point is, tho...every major seller, bank, card issuer, etc. KNOWS that fraud is rampant.  Therefore they know they must take steps to guarantee their contacts are legit...so that's why it's "we think there's a problem, please contact us."

 

But...thing is, people's brains get rattled, and they panic.  That's how these scams work.  And they do work enough of the time;  they don't need a very high success rate.  They play on peoples' fear/panic that "oh my there's a problem!" and any offer to fix doesn't, at that point, go through the thinking brain, it goes through the stupid lizard brain.  It bites to say this...but assume they're lying.  Assume they're fake.  Assume anything they're saying as "authentication" is totally fake.  Because 99% of the time...it is.

 

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The calls that bugged me the most were the ones from "Apple Support" to my cell phone that my Apple account had gotten hacked.  Pretty difficult to do, since I don't HAVE an Apple account.  What irritated me the most was that I was getting several dozen calls EVERY DAY for like 4-5 days.  I'd no sooner hang up on one, and another would call 10 minutes later.  And they were spoofing multiple numbers, never any two alike, so I couldn't just block the calls easily.  And if I didn't answer them, they filled up my voicemail box very quickly. 

 

What finally got them to stop was that I would press 1 to talk to an "Apple agent", and then repeatedly press the 1 button when they got on the line so they'd get the irritating beep over and over until they hung up.  After about a half dozen of those, they apparently removed me from their list, because the calls finally stopped.

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No, I very strongly suspect they stopped calling you because they got caught...or for reasons of their own, such as "ok we have a bunch of new phone numbers we can use to spoof, let's start calling a different state!"

 

My calls were "Windows support."  Yeah, right.  You can connect an IP address to a phone number.  NOT!

 

They're nowhere near the level of problem, but I don't care if I miss a call any more.  Simple as that.  If practical, I'll try to get to it to see the number, then decide.  If I miss it?  They'll leave a message.  VOIP has an answering machine, cell does too.  If they don't, then I'll see if I recognize the number, perhaps going so far as to look it up, and call back if warranted.  I realize it doesn't work for most, who have more contacts in their lives.  For that...see about setting up call filtering.  If that's not practical...be disciplined, and teach your kids to be disciplined, about the calls you respect.

 

And generally...yeah, I get the natural reaction.  They bug me, I bug them back.  But don't.  Hang up.  It really is the safest approach.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, Cygnia said:

I've been getting scammy spam texts -- to make it worse, the phone's not giving me the option to block them :(

 

https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-block-robotexts-and-spam-messages

 

The first thing to try might be your carrier's services.  I actually don't have call blocking set up on my phone, even tho I could;  it was being too much of a pain.  Then again I didn't try very hard to get it to work well.  

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A couple of weeks ago we got a scam phone call from someone claiming to be Amazon on the same day that our yearly renewal was charged to our credit card account. The automated call told us the correct dollar amount of the charge of the yearly renewal and claimed that the charge was for the purchase of an item which was to be sent to Ohio.

 

It asked me to press 1 to be connected to an Amazon operator.

 

I instead hung up. Had my wife check the credit card to see if we'd actually been charged that amount, which we had. Then she called Amazon and had a very confusing conversation with a real Amazon representative before confirming that the call was a scam.

 

Honestly, we get 6-8 scam calls a week because I'm in a very scammable age group. But not many of them have enough information to sound legit on the surface.

 

Personally, I think Amazon has been infiltrated by the scammers or they wouldn't have had enough inside information to have made the call. 

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10 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

No, I very strongly suspect they stopped calling you because they got caught...or for reasons of their own, such as "ok we have a bunch of new phone numbers we can use to spoof, let's start calling a different state!"

 

My calls were "Windows support."  Yeah, right.  You can connect an IP address to a phone number.  NOT!

 

 

I've messed with the scammers on some of those phone calls.

 

Told them I just looked out my windows and that they looked fine.

 

They'd explain that they're talking about my computer.

 

I tell them I've never owned a computer.

 

They say maybe it's on my phone.

 

I tell them they're calling a land line and that I'm picking up my phone to look for a window but I can't find one....

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This is a partial scam, partial recruiting pitch. Keep in mind that Webnovel has a negative reputation for stealing work.

Hello carl-syphrett,

My name is Bryce. I'm an Author Liaison representative, representing Webnovel.

I've read the initial chapters and I feel that your novel showcases your capabilities as a writer thus, I would like to invite you to publish on our platform Webnovel. You may find Webnovel on Appstore or Google Play, which has over tens of millions installations.

We would like to offer a non-exclusive contract for your novels currently on the site, this way, you can keep the novel on the site but at the same time also help you tap on the large reader base of on Webnovel with over 60 million unique user views, making it a win-win situation.

Please feel free to reach out to me with regards to this, we want to understand your needs first and foremost as an author to help you reach the target market you want to hit.

For more information, you can join our discord server or email us at:
discord(dot)gg/ZBhZYNp

Or if you want to reach out personally, You can contact me at:
Facebook Messenger: Webnovel Editors
Instagram: Webnovel Editors
Whatsapp: +65 8931 5794
Discord: bryce#1600
Email: BryceAng@yuewen(dot)com 

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archer:  I've done similar things too, but it really isn't a good idea.  It does no good;  I seriously doubt it even nudges their radar.  They've heard it before.  Can they take advantage of your staying on the line?  I can't think of a way they could;  once you answered at all, they confirmed a legit phone number.  But just because I don't know of a way they can, doesn't mean they can't.  And there is zero value in doing so...so any risk at all means an infinite risk/reward ratio.  

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Home phone is actually a VoIP line, and NoMoRobo is free for them. That's active, and I have call filters that eliminate the neighbor spam (same area code and prefix as the phone number), and in rare cases, I've added numbers to the blocked list. When I first took over the number after my housemate had passed away, I would receive tech support scam calls, which are a lot of fun for someone who gets paid as an IT tech.

 

Personal Cell uses a distinctive ring for any numbers that are in my contact list, and the default ring is set to silent (vibrate). I also subscribe to a service that filters numbers, and have a Google Voice line for call filtering.

 

Work Cell gets hit multiple times a day with spam. For a while, it was the credit card scammers, who used to get really mad at me when I'd keep them on the line, but wouldn't give them a valid credit card number (my personal record was 25 minutes and 5 agents).  Lately, it's been an interactive bot that tries to sell solar panels. While I used to answer every call, I now only answer numbers that get validated via my contact list, which also draws from our organization's Exchange Server contact list.

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Yeah, I also get calls from South Asia claiming to be Microsoft tech support, Apple tech support, IRS threats, yadda yadda, a few times a month. The first time they almost got me, because I*was* having problems with Wibdows, so it seemed plausible that the program had contacted Microsoft to report the problem. But the request to get access to my computer smelled fishy, and wasn't possible anyway because I'm stuck with dial-up. Can't give them access and stay on the phone. Since then, I just hang up.

 

Every few months, I also get calls from someone who says, "Hey Grandpa." This never fooled me ofr a second because I don't have children, let alone grandchildren. I did once try stringing the guy along to hear what the scam would be, by putting a slight quaver in my voice and asking, "Jason? I almost didn't recognize your voice." And got the spiel about being in an accident that wasn't really his fault but he was arrested anyway, and needs money to make bail. I tried taking the scammer down the rabbit hole by saying that he shouldn't diappoint the family like this, he dowsn't want to be left with the humans when our masters return and THE HARVEST begins... No use; he had his script and ignored whatever I said. He tried calling again after I got bored and hung up, practicalloy weeping about the trouble he was in, but I told him to solve it himself and hung up again.

 

So yeah, there's really nothing to be gained by trying to have fun at a scammer's expense.

 

Dean Shomshak

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33 minutes ago, Pariah said:

I got a phone call today from someone who was obviously a kid claiming to be one of the other teachers in my building. No idea what the kid could possibly have been after.

 

Did they ask if you're refrigerator was running?

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1 hour ago, Starlord said:

 

Did they ask if you're refrigerator was running?

 

I believe I've had that once or twice.  
I have wi-fi connected sockets and light bulbs...but not appliances.  I like the convenience of those, but never saw a reason to hook up to my fridge from the store.  I have considered a wi-fi thermostat, especially in summer.  We've pushed record highs quite a bit;  the forecast high for today is 101, it's already 97.  Record high is 103;  average high is 91.  And that's been very consistent all summer.  The nighttime temps haven't cooled either, so I've often needed to run the AC for a while in the middle part of the evening...but that necessitates shutting it off later.  I tend to forget to do that, at least before I'm comfortably ensconced in bed with a book.

 

But I think suggesting an IoT attack is going to cause most people to go "huh???" Because how many people have connected appliances, if nothing else.  I'll freely admit they might just go in one ear and out the other, but I don't recall seeing ads for smart appliances in a while.  Used to, yes, but not recently.  (Of course, I had the TV off for 3 months there too....)

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I just got a call from a number in Texas telling me there was a problem with my Social Security number. It was a robocall, but  it had all the signs of a classic phishing scam. They told me there were from the "Department of Social Security Administration" (that's not what the agency is called) and told me to call them back at that Texas number (as opposed to calling the actual SSA).

 

Needless to say, I did not call them back as requested.

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   I actually enjoy mine, once a month or so I’ll get a robo call that says I have a problem with my car insurance and if I press one I’ll be connected with an agent.....so since I’m pretty much house bound and bored silly I’ll press one and wait to be connected.  When the friendly helpful sounding agent comes on I’ll say,   “YOU LYING PIECE OF S#17!!! . I DON’T OWN A CAR, SO I DON’T HAVE ANY FU(%ING CAR INSURANCE!!  I KNOW TIMES ARE TOUGH, BUT GET A REAL JOB!!!  DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW YOU STEAL FROM DUMB PEOPLE FOR A LIVING!!!!”  
Then I hang up.  It’s good for my blood pressure, kind of like aerobics.
 You’ld think they’d take me off the list.

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I haven't gotten one of those fake MS support calls in a while. The next time I get one, I'm booting into Linux and letting the guy try to talk me through his scam. Should be amusing.

 

Back, oh, about fifteen(?) years now, my grandmother got taken in by someone pretending to be her grandson (me) scam and actually met the scammers at an ATM and gave them the money. I was livid. I found out when the local police investigator called me to verify I wasn't in state, followed by a call from an uncle who lived closest to her at the time. She claimed that they gave my name, but more than likely she asked them if they were me by name, because they also had a deep voice.

 

I hope there's a special circle of Hell reserved for these ********.

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1 hour ago, Pattern Ghost said:

I haven't gotten one of those fake MS support calls in a while. The next time I get one, I'm booting into Linux and letting the guy try to talk me through his scam. Should be amusing.

 

Back, oh, about fifteen(?) years now, my grandmother got taken in by someone pretending to be her grandson (me) scam and actually met the scammers at an ATM and gave them the money. I was livid. I found out when the local police investigator called me to verify I wasn't in state, followed by a call from an uncle who lived closest to her at the time. She claimed that they gave my name, but more than likely she asked them if they were me by name, because they also had a deep voice.

 

I hope there's a special circle of Hell reserved for these ********.

 

Well, not unique to them, but in Dante's arrangement they'd probably get the Bolgia 10, which is the deepest part of the 8th Circle of Hell.  From the Wikipedia article:

 

Quote

Bolgia Ten: Falsifiers, those who attempted to alter things through lies or alchemy, or those who tried to pass off false things as real things, such as counterfeiters of coins, are punished here. This bolgia has four subdivisions where specific classes of falsifiers (alchemists, impostors, counterfeiters, and liars) endure different degrees of punishment based on horrible, consumptive diseases such as rashes, dropsy, leprosy and consumption.

 

That work for you?

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18 hours ago, unclevlad said:

 

Well, not unique to them, but in Dante's arrangement they'd probably get the Bolgia 10, which is the deepest part of the 8th Circle of Hell.  From the Wikipedia article:

 

 

That work for you?

 

If not, he could always ask for an upgrade.

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