In these days we have to pay more attention to the victims of phone frauds, which includes the vulnerable seniors. Last week an elderly robocall victim committed suicide after phone scammers have stolen her life-savings.
It is already mid July! tellows hopes that you have a good start of the summer. In the last article, tellows shared information about the Bill of ‘Traced Act’ being passed in the Senate. Although we are now getting more and more help in preventing spam calls, caller ID and call blocking apps continue to be important!
In the US, half of the phone calls people received are considered to be spam calls. According to FTC, in 2019, 78% of frauds are conducted by phone and the total reported loss is 83M USD. Till July this year, there are already 143K reports of phone frauds. However, compared to last year with a total loss of phone frauds estimated to be 442M USD, we can already see that the measures adopted are helpful and it is promising that one day we will no longer have to deal with spam calls!
Robocalls have been bothering us a long time and it has recently been becoming more and more unbearable. Last year the number of robocalls reached 26 billion – a 46% increase comparing to the estimated robocalls in 2017. A bill regarding to nuisance calls is passed by the US Senate with 97 to 1 vote in the later of May. The bill, named TRACED (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence) Act, will lift the fine to $10,000 per robocall and extend the statute of limitations on robocalls from two to three years.
According to CNN politics, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed that
“There’s very little more annoying to New Yorkers than being woken up in the dead of night by automated calls trying to scam them out of their hard-earned money,”
“The TRACED Act is just what we need to hang up on these nonstop robocalls, and the House should follow the Senate’s lead and pass it ASAP.”
Telecom companies are happy with the result. With this new regulation established, carriers will be able to implement robocall blocking technologies for customers automatically.
If you still remember, the US government is doing something to stop the skyrocketing robocalls, there are bills in Congress waiting to be voted next month. In the US, we receive billions of robocalls per month, and monthly money loss amount to 128M last year. Of course, it is promising if the bill passes in the summer, however, we should also pay attention to the latest information about phone scam in the mean time!
From 2000 to 2010, there were nearly 14 million immigrants who entered the United States. The US is basically accepting more legal immigrants as permanent residents than all other countries in the world combined. For these immigrants, at least for most of them I’m sure, American dream signifies new opportunities, a new world and a new life.
But then statistics leads us to having this huge immigrant population in the US as one of the most lucrative markets for the scammers. Immigrants or those who are still applying for an immigrant status could be naive, vulnerable, and still less informed about the country’s legal system.
Scammers would claim he is connected with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), “spoof” the victim’s telephone Caller ID system to display that the call originated from USCIS, ask for the social security and passport numbers, dates of birth, etc., and scare the victim by saying that there are some problems in his immigration records. The perpetrator would then convince the victim to pay a certain fee to process his records and threaten him with deportation or application/petition denial if the victim refuses to pay.
There have been similar reports in tellows regarding this matter. 0016466166770 was reported to be asking for a legal fee for an immigration lawyer.
they called me up also in asked my credit card no. for legal fee for immigration lawyer,and they talk very fast and persistent. i give them my old credit card no. anyway thank you for knowing it…
A similar thing happened to bai, this time the scammer is offering assistance on her visa application:
I got a call from this number saying she is processing a visa. she is asking for any debit card or credit card last 4 digit number in order to open the application.
Those applying for visas, green cards and employment authorization are also being scammed by „businesses“ promising faster and sure way of getting applications approved. Scammers also use fake websites offering step by step guidance on completing a USCIS application or petition that claim to be affiliated with USCIS. Others even ask for payment to download forms, instructions or other information.
As advised by USCIS, seek assistance from the right place and people that are authorised to help. Applying directly with USCIS can give you the same result without extra charges and fees. Trust only the official website of USCIS with free downloadable documents.
Report such scams to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov and your appropriate state authorities.
Two consecutive incidents happened recently in Massachusetts subjecting two mothers under terrifying situations allegedly involving their kids.
Theresa, a mother from Revere, received a call in the middle of a snow storm in December. The caller said his cousin has the pistol to her daughter’s head and that they would kill her if she will not cooperate and follow their instructions. “He said, ‘Listen to me carefully, I have your daughter.’ He knew everything about her,” says a Revere mom named Theresa. The caller was asking for $1,000.
Similar incident happened to Laura while she was at work Monday last week in Lynnfield. She received a call informing her that her 14-year old son damaged his car in an accident and that he would be shot unless she transfers $2,000.
In both situations, the scam artists knew about the victims’ family details, like names, the kids’ school, outfit and physical apperance of the “alleged” kidnapped son and daughter.
Before we give you our Most Annoying Numbers for the week, here’s a list of institutions that can help you deal with a scam:
1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has consumer advisories on international and text message scams.
2. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides information on phone scams and spam.
3. The National Fraud Information Center (NFIC) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
4. All major U.S. wireless companies can help you with their spam blocking technologies.
And so this week for our top 3, we have a Spanish autodialer with 11 comments and 2085 search requests; we have a spammer looking for k.smith because her debit card has been locked, and lastly, we have our resident caller telling you to claim your Royal Caribbean or Carnival Cruise prize. Remember guys, don’t fall for it!
I remember this Hollywood film Compliance, I couldn’t sleep after watching it. It’s about this prank caller who phoned the manager of a fast food chain and introduced himself as a police officer. He asked the manager to strip search one of her female employees because she allegedly stole something. The manager believed it and followed everything the caller asked her to do. The scam call ended up as a sexual harassment case. This film is based on a true story and apparently, there were over 70 similar incidents that already occurred in 30 U.S. States.
After seeing this movie, you will never again talk to strangers! Yes, we’ve heard that from our mothers when we were kids, but still, this comes in handy every time we face the dangerous world out there.
Based on true accounts of our tellows users, our top three for the week go like this: 1) caller tells you they found your lost debit card and then will ask you to confirm the number to them, the next thing you knew, they’re already using your debit card number for different transactions; 2) scam call pretending to be a representative of Nova Scotia informing you that you just won a free cruise but they first need your bank account details to make sure that they are talking to the right person; 3) another Caribbean spam caller, this time from Montserrat.
The crème de la crème of cunning crooks and crafty con artists have been leading US citizens a merry dance with their latest scheme: using the Internal Revenue Service’s caller ID to make threatening calls demanding that their victims pay their ‘overdue tax’. In the aftermath of the initial bombshell, the caller will casually request that the tax be paid via debit card or a wire transfer, both methods conspicuous by their untraceability.
You may think that this scam is clumsy and glaringly obvious. As we’re about to demonstrate, we’ve seen numerous instances of badly executed IRS impersonations in the past: heavy accents, threadbare information about their potential victims and a habit of dropping the phone like it’s hot when the victims press for information…
User Dumbo proved himself not very dumb at all when he received a call from 5302385813:
A man with a thick accent said his name barely audible and claimed to be from the IRS and said that this call was regarding some debt I allegedly had. He got very rude and threatened to freeze my accounts and credit cards. The thing is, I don’t have any debt and I’m VERY sure of it. So I told him not to call anymore and, still hearing his protests through the phone, I just hung up.
‘Xaviera’, meanwhile, was pestered by 7165757391:
I was called three times in 2 hours. Each time they claimed to be IRS and they said something about taxes or debts, I didn’t really get it because he had an indian accent. Anyway, firstly I know for sure that the IRS won’t call people, it will use the US Mail service to reach the person they want. So their claim is false. And second, they wanted to talk to a different person and I told them each time that I’m not the one they’re looking for. I was informed that it didn’t matter. Now that’s a trustworthy business…
Very savvy, guys. Hang in there: we’re proud of you.
However, these guys have gone the extra step. Not only are they calling from what appears to be the IRS’s bona fide number (spoofed, naturally), they also somehow know the last 4 digits of your social security number and make it a royal flush with staff names, badge numbers and often emails with the IRS logo and format.
But they don’t even draw the line there! We covered the worrying rise in number-spoofing in a previous blog, “Who Spoofed the Sheriff?”: fraudsters can make use of technology that masks their real caller ID and replaces it either with a nonsense number (000-000-0000 being a favourite), or (oh the audacity!) the caller ID of a publicly recognised establishment. If you don’t comply, or seem doubtful, the guys behind the IRS scam will proceed to follow up the call with further harassment from the police or the Department of Motor Vehicles; number-spoofing is child’s play to these guys so prepare for a barrage of calls, all ostensibly from the correct caller IDs. Armed with this facade of legitimacy and threats of arrest, deportation or confiscation of your business or driving licence, they’ll have you listening.
However, as always, we urge you to BE WARY! IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel stresses that in the first instance, notification about due tax will in most cases be sent in the mail. Payment will be requested via cheques or bank transfers, never wire transfers or debit card! Moreover, they are an independent body and do not act in conjunction with state police or other organisations.
If you receive an unprompted call claiming to be from the IRS, we advise you to call them directly on 800-829-1040. You can also wise up using the official IRS ‘scam-alert’ web page. In the meantime, keep searching and reporting numbers on tellows and give each other a hand in the fight against scam callers!
‘Til next time,
Your Tellows Team