Scambaiter calls Rite Aid to warn manager a scam victim is coming to buy gift cards

Originally published at: Scambaiter calls Rite Aid to warn manager a scam victim is coming to buy gift cards | Boing Boing


Confused, super confused.


Note how ruthless the scammer is and especially how abusive they become once a victim stops complying.

I’ve seen this happen every time I string them along playing my “confused old man” character (I like putting a little Droopy Dawg inflection into it). They turn from solicitous to vicious on a dime.

The call centre scams vary, but they usually start with a cold call claiming that the (usually elderly) mark’s computer has been hacked. They offer to take out the malware by getting the mark to allow a remote desktop connection to their PC.

They claim they’ve fixed the problem (while of course installing their own malware and stealing personal info and passwords). They then ask for payment for the “service” by having the mark buy untraceable gift cards from Amazon, Apple, etc. at retail outlets like CVS. The mark gives the scammer the card serial numbers and the scammer grabs the money (unlike credit cards, there are no reversals due to scams).

My mother fell for this, which is why I sometimes mess with them when they call.


I am the DPOA of a friend in a nursing home so I have his phone number forwarded to my cell. Most of my phone load are from scam calls to him.

I also am the primary computer reference for both sides of the family. My mother has been hit 3 times till I finally got through to her to call me at ANYTIME! I guess when I retire I can do this for entertainment.

My favorite instance: Mom: Microsoft says I have a problem. Me: You have a Mac.


Admittedly, Microsoft might consider that a problem. The closest thing I have to a Windows OS in my home is when I remotely connect to one of the computers at work, but I’ve seriously considered setting up a VM just to mess with the occasional scammer.


One of my son’s teenage friends works at the local electronics store, where they sell gift cards. He tells me that it is almost a daily occurence to have a worried senior come in to buy $500 worth of Steam or other gift cards to help their grandchild out of trouble. In some cases they get quite angry when he tries to explain to them it is a scam and that they are being duped.

We are a small town (5000 people) and it happens a lot. It makes me wonder how much of the gift card industry is actually just feeding scams.


My grandma is a scambaiter without even knowing about it. She’s so confused, and completely immobile, and completely technology illiterate but genuinely wants to help the person on the line.

So it sometimes takes them hours before they realize they’re getting nothing out of her, and she’s just humouring them with no clue what they’re talking about.

[Edit for clarification] I have complete financial responsibility for her and she couldn’t buy a gift card or send money to the scammers if she tried.


Just a hypothetical…

Are scammers on the same circle of Dante’s hell as Nazis? Can we punch them?


Overseas scammers may not blink an eye if you tell them your name is Droopy Dawg. They then may even mistake you for a hip-hop artist.

Mimics the GOP playbook: They hit you with a fictitious problem then pose as your problem-solving rescuer.


I almost got scammed when I googled a customer help number for support - not the real site and asked for these cash cards.

They lost me then. Still - very believable.


There were scammers calling my work number over and over and over for months. No amount of weirdness (speaking non-English languages, playing Halloween sound FX, acting like a confused old man/woman, telling them I didn’t even have a credit card) could get them to stop calling. Even calling their bluff with “OK, so you guys are running a scam here, huh? How does it work? Do you make a lot of money?” had no effect.

How long should it take for anyone to figure out my number was a useless waste of time? I started to wonder, were scammers trying to scam other scammers by selling them lists of bad numbers?


Different circle, but punching is encouraged.

I knew it was a pill pusher from India calling one evening, so I brusquely answered the phone, “Joe’s Auto Repair, how may I help you?” as if I were a harried, hurried employee of said fine establishment. He asked me how I was doing this evening, and I rather impatiently replied, “Busy. How may I help you, sir?”

He proceeded to give me his pill spiel, and I interrupted him. “Sir, I am very busy and I have customers waiting here. Is there something I can help you with?” He picked up his spiel again, so I repeated that I needed to wait on actual customers, and he became angry, telling me that he was also busy.

I started talking over him as his “conversation” reached the turning-into-abuse stage, asking, “How are your brakes? Is your car smoothly shifting? How’s your transmission?” That got him.


“How’s your transmission? Joe’s a real wizard on transmissions…or do you have another kind of car trouble?”

He cursed me out in another language as I continued asking about how his car was running, and he finally hung up.

ETA: I was in the living room when it happened, and mom and a couple friends were having a really hard time stifling their laughter.


Out of curiosity, how do these gift cards become fungible currency? I understand that the scammers probably sell the cards/codes on some kind of black market, but presumably down the pipeline someone will be converting the codes to cash (unless the end result really is lots of hours playing games on Steam or music on iTunes).


You may have just given me the topic for an upcoming “Tech Tips Tuesday” posting at work!


Without any inside knowledge, I would guess that they sell these cards under face value (eg $5 for a $20 card) and people use them to buy microtransactions and become whales at a fraction of the cost


dragons den no GIF by CBC


That was my assumption as well, but a search of eBay turns up a lot of (for example) Steam cards being listed for more than face value! Doing a bit of reading, this is apparently yet another layer of the scam, with money laundering, stolen credit card “milking” and other slimey practices being incorporated into the mix. Why pay for your own gift cards to fund these other scams when you can just do it this way?


Ah, yeah, sure, I forgot about the eBay “above value” market, the magnitude of which seems most easily explained by using stolen credit cards.


In this case the scammer is insisting that the victim buy $200 cards instead of $50 card. That seems counter to the goal of doing microtransactions.


Not at all. “Microtransactions” on pay-to-play games can frequently run $100-200.

Warframe has one of the less insidious micropayment systems I’ve seen. The top premium currency bundle is $200. A single “frame” is $40, and there are dozens of those frames available. And that’s for the old ones. A newly-released one runs $80.

ETA: and I’m speaking generally, not just in this case, but if the card is for a marketplace like Apple or Steam, those gift cards go into a pool that can be spent across many apps