Call center scammers looted $10bn last year from U.S.

Originally published at: Call center scammers looted $10bn last year from U.S. | Boing Boing


Man, they almost got my dad last years. I forget how they roped him in , and even during the call he was suspicious, but they almost got access to his bank. Fortunately he didn’t have online banking enabled (they tried to walk hi through the process) and it was a bank holiday. My sister runs where he banks at now, so she was able to lock things down otherwise.

Still- fucking hate thieves and scammers.


Not only are they criminals, they’re the kinds of incompetent criminals who only get by targetting the most vulnerable victims. If one calls and I’m bored I do a “confused old man” act to entertain myself and waste their time before letting them know they’re wastes of oxygen as well.


I would be homicide-committing angry if someone managed to scam my mom or another friend or relative like this. However, at this time all I would be able to do is seethe in anger, because no one in authority seems interested in doing anything about it.


Scammers pretending to be the credit card company had a gimmick a few years ago, where they could hold the land line for a bit after you hung up, then pretend to give you a dial tone if you tried to dial out.

I didn’t know about that when they tried us, and they had a fair bit of info like name and address, but they were pretty frantic that I hang up and immediately call the number on the credit card, calling back a couple times when I was too slow for them, and that gave the game away. “Hey, why don’t you stay on this line while I dial out with my cell phone? Hello?”


One would think the telcos would have a financial motive to keep customers from distrusting phone calls entirely as a form of communication. Most people I know don’t even have land lines anymore because scam calls and telemarketers have become so pervasive.


My (layman’s) understanding is that, while telcos have definitely been more willing to devalue their medium than I would have expected, there’s an extra layer of trouble because there are a lot of telephone companies, technically and legally(so that Verizon can’t just hold some hapless local utility cooperative in Kansas to ransom by refusing to interact with them) interoperable; and you only really need one to get your calls where you want them.

The big RBOCs took a shameful amount of FCC pressure to even make noises in the direction of doing anything; but even what little the FCC has pushed isn’t mandatory for the small outfits who can just play the “We’re an honest telcom of the soil who can barely make rent on our Strowger switch; being oppressed by burdensome regulations” card; while compensating for the fact that providing voice services to a small scattering of rural customers isn’t desperately lucrative by shoveling massive amounts of deeply dubious VOIP traffic onto the network for anyone who is willing to pay.


This sort of thing adds an extra layer of depressing absurdity to the revelations of the massive amount of clandestine wiretapping the feds got into post-9/11. They managed to be almost arbitrarily Orwellian and yet come up with almost nothing of interest; even as activity like this(which one suspects has a pretty distinctive signature if you are snagging basically all the call metadata along with banking activity records) reliably claims some billions a year, year in and year out; along with the BECs and 419s taking their toll(roughly the same magnitude).

I assume that the State Department couldn’t really do enough smoothing over to allow us to just operate Reapers in the area directly; but constantly hammering the relevant local authorities with embarrassingly detailed case files with much of the work already done seems like a bare minimum response.


We really shouldn’t need Mark Rober and his associates to shut down these assholes. I destroy this Call Center full of Scammers - YouTube


Caller ID spoofing remains a problem because the protocols were invented in the 1970s and never had any security or authentication built into them. At that time the phone companies’ biggest threats were from their customers, and purely internal messages were still completely trusted. Caller ID messages were blindly accepted not only from other phone providers, but from corporate Private Branch Exchanges.

Then came international long distance Caller ID, and the phone companies found they couldn’t trust calls from random shady mom&pop phone companies around the globe. But they still needed to provide Caller ID for all those Big Corporations with their expensive PBXs and telecom networks. And they can’t change their clients without asking them to buy expensive upgrades.

Major infrastructure investments like telecom networks involving millions of dollars worth of wiring and hardware mean the corporate landscape is slow to move. But it is moving. Many big companies are finally shifting away from the traditional “telephone at each desk” model, and issuing cheap PC headsets for those fewer and fewer employees who need company phones. Calling and conferencing is now done with VoIP, or increasingly with Zoom, Teams, or other web based platforms. The expensive telephone networks of the 20th century are being recognized as sunk costs, and abandoned in place.

So yeah, the phone companies don’t want to anger their remaining customers by asking them to pay to upgrade their systems to use an improved Caller ID, because most responses are likely to be “why are we still paying you for anything? Let’s just convert to Zoom or something and be done with this telephone crap.”


I mean, I think I’m pretty much there. I don’t answer the phone most of the time, unless it’s my kids school. I’ve got GoogleFi service and frankly it kinda sucks for phone calls for some reason but I never use it for that so, who cares? My mom is in her 70s and she hardly answers the phone if she doesn’t know the number, so I think their scammable population is dwindling.

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