Tag Archives: telephone scam

Don’t be a victim! Our Top 3 scam clichés for the week

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.

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The Tellows Top 3: Holiday Hangover and Nuisance Calls

Oh well, Christmas rush is over and scammers are back to business. You still have this hangover from the long holiday break and yet these bogus numbers are back and ready to terorrize people again.

Our top 3 hardworking prank callers for the week include the „court action for bank fraud“ number, the computer guy claiming that he is from microsoft, and the boring „not in service“ phoneline.

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News from the Caribbean – Grenada’s Haven for Sex Scam Callers

It’s one of those late night calls that you were not able to pick up. You called back early in the morning thinking that it was an emergency. Unfortunately, you heard obscene moaning and realized it’s a scam. Then your phone bill arrives, and there goes an extra $100 charge.

Due to the huge amount of complaints received, police departments across Utah are warning people not to answer and not to call back numbers from the 473 area code. Apparently, some residents in the area who just picked up the phone and did not even return the call were getting a $19.95 charge on their phone bill.

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Pests of the Caribbean – The Tide of Grenadian Nuisance Calls

For some the Caribbean Sea equals paradise, for others, the sole notion of the Grenadian area code 473 forebodes only waking nights and sleepless nightmares. A new phone-fiend has arisen on the small island of Grenada in the Caribbean Sea and pesters unwitting people with dozens of silent calls a day.

Our fellow tellows users complain about an increasing number of automated calls from Grenada. Usually the calls are most numerous in the morning, yet afternoon calls and bellowing phones at night were reported as well. Yet no one actually ever talked to the caller. The tellows user thereby conclude that the callers agenda is primarily aimed at tricking people into calling back.

Danglt reported the number 4735209795:

Seems to be a ping call from grenada. Even without any fees for a service number the reaming fee will be high enough to cost you some dollars

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The Tellows Top 3: Calls Making You Cranky This Week!

This week’s batch all want your card details if the truth be told. Fight back by quite simply not giving them up. Here are some sneaky new adversaries on the scene to look out for…

A new entrant to the IRS scam arena (someone stop these guys already!) is 5303802641. Highly active within the last week, they’ve got a tellows score of 7 (possibly due to one misunderstanding of the scoring system – remember, 1 means TRUSTWORTHY!) and have no respect for public holidays!

Dan’s got his detective hat on…

This dumb scammer calls me on Thanksgiving day pretending to be an IRS lawyer claiming that I have an ‘Tax deficiency’ issue. What kind of idiot will believe an IRS lawyer works on Thanksgiving day and will call his ‘client’??

Very true. People calling you out of the blue about a ‘legal issue’ is more often than not quite fishy!

On the other end of the credibility spectrum is the gentleman (note the irony) calling from 3362286986. This is a guy who ostensibly really takes offence to non-credit-card-owners; he really flies off the handle if you don’t give him the answer he’s looking for. We’re not sure if he’s working ‘freelance’ or is part of a larger agency but he intersperses his survey questions with other, rather inappropriate enquiries.

Darron indignantly tell us about his experience…

I finally picked up from this number and some guy wouldn’t tell me who or where he was calling from. then I asked to be taken off his calling list and was then called several names and asked to give him a kiss. he said are you drunk? he really irritated me do not listen to him!!!!!

Cold-call flirting is a new one on us but this is exactly what this guy is doing… Albeit ineptly. And angrily.

Check out the link above for a few more entertaining stories.

With a tellows score of 8, 8608227440 is offering ‘better credit card rates’ and has absolutely no explanation of how it’s doing so.

Luckily, Aurora recognised the call for what it was…

The caller talked about better interest for my credit card and wanted to have my credit card number…I left her waiting until she hung up. As if anybody would fall for that kind of scam

…well someone must be if they’re still doing it! If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it weekly, DON’T give your card details out willy-nilly!

Keep your heads up, block those numbers and report them on tellows and we’ll be back with more nerve-grating numbers next week!

Take care,
Your tellows team

All Systems on Alert for the Medical Alert Scam!

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: scammers really do know no scruples. The scheme we’re looking at this week preys on senior citizens.

Often living at home alone, Grandma & Gramps may feel isolated or vulnerable; so when a scammer comes calling from ‘Senior Safety Alert’ with an offer of an unbelievably cheap in-house alarm system for break-ins or medical emergencies, they will probably jump at the chance.

Ironic, considering that sieges on their security are exactly what they’re trying to protect themselves against.

The call starts with a recording offering the deal: a system worth hundreds of dollars, fitted for you, on a $30 per month contract. The potential ‘scammee’ will then need to press a number to indicate their interest and will be transferred to a ‘customer advisor’, who will take their credit card numbers and personal information and scam them for all their worth.

You, faithful tellows users, seem to be on the ball enough to show these fraudsters what you’re made of. It helps that they don’t seem to have the facility to filter their target market.

User ‘vanity-affair’ got a call from 2126775122, claiming to be ‘Medical Alert Systems for Seniors’ (which might be bona fide but is suspiciously one of the names famously used by bogus callers).

I’m not a senior but the calls are still annoying. I’m not interested in buying something over the phone.

Meanwhile, ‘grandma’ is having none of it: with a dismissive flick of what I imagine to be an immaculate perm, she terms the call she got from 5412003592 as

the classic medical alert scam.

Things to look out for…

The caller will identify him or herself as an employee of a company to the effect of Senior Safe Alert, Medical Alert Systems, etc. etc. There are, of course, legitimate companies that offer these systems but they will NOT, repeat NOT, ask you for your social security number, credit card details, outline of your genetic makeup, etc. etc. during a sales call! Other warning signs include a refusal to disclose any details about the company (e.g. address) or an unwillingness to provide any authentification documents.

As always, take care of yourselves! And don’t forget to er… raise the alarm, if you get one of these calls.

Keep reporting your number experiences on tellows and have an excellent week!

Your tellows team

Ingenious Ruses and Scams: Spoofing The IRS

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

Tellows’ Top 3: The Week’s Gear-Grinders

Howdy friends of tellows!

We have a mixed bag of callers for you this week; from the serious to just plain outlandish, our ‘wanted’ list always has contenders jostling for that Most Annoying award.

First up is a scam that’s becoming increasingly popular across the United States: the ‘you got served!’ call. Calling from LA on 2132609423, this fella’s not got the scam down to a fine art just yet…

User hal_t recounts:

some guy has called me literally EVERY. DAY. for the last two weeks telling me he’s bringing round legal papers and I’m getting ‘served’. not been served yet bro…

There unfortunately are more tenacious tricksters out there, who have successfully convinced US citizens that there is a warrant for their arrest out that they can buy their way out of for a couple of thousand dollars. Now, not only is it not possible to get ‘served’ over the phone, it is highly suspect that somebody would ask you to pay your way out of it without showing you any kind of documentation. Don’t let the fear surprise you out of your senses.

Second on the list, 9164698829, tries a similar tack, though much more aggressively. According to our heatmap, the perpetrators are based in Sacramento, CA, and try to accuse you, under a variety of aliases, of owing huge debts.

flynn099, who received a call from a ‘George Belowski’, was having none of it…

THREATENED US WITH A YEAR LONG PRISON SENTENCE FOR BANK ISSUES??? REAL HEAVY INDIAN ACCENT, TOLD US HE WAS FILING THE CLAIM IN AN HOUR!!!! MY FINANCES ARE TOTALLY CLEAR, THIS IS A MASSIVE SCAM!

Like flynn, you too should always be suspicious of an unprompted and unjustified phonecalls about your finances.
Last but not least is prankster and presumably Pitt-fan 8137936945, calling from Clearwater, FL. Witty user ‘monkeyingaround’ could fortunately see the funny side of the call, which cross-referenced more popular culture than your average chain-yanking caller…

‘Tyler Durden’ called me then proceeded to reference 12 Monkeys. Points for originality but stop pranking me!!!

Well, it takes all sorts folks…

Have a great week and stay cellphone-savvy!

Your tellows team

Transatlantic Team To Wage War on Serial Spoofers

21st October 2013 brought good news for all phone-owners as the USA’s Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission joined forces with organisations in the UK and Canada to crack down on ‘spoof’ callers. This new task force aims to share international resources and knowledge to tackle nuisance callers’ stranglehold over phonelines the world over.

The Truth in Caller ID Act, passed by President Obama in December 2010, prohibits the masking of Caller ID with the intent to “defraud, cause harm, or wrongfully obtain anything of value”. Working with Ofcom, the UK’s independent regulation and competition authority for communications industries, the UK-based Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Canadian Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the FTC and FCC have pledged to use their collective international jurisdiction act decisively and severely against the criminal act of spoofing.

Spoof calling, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, involves using some ingenious software to mask the number you’re actually calling from, preventing the recipients of your calls from locating you, or calling you back. This is naturally infurating for people plagued by anonymous calls. What’s even more infuriating is that whilst some spoofers use nonsense numbers instead of their own, others have gone the extra mile and strategically use the phone numbers of well-known organisations to execute some impressive scam manoeuvres. Let’s take a look at a couple.

Tellows users in the US reported this month that one band of tricksters have been using a phone number belonging to New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation (NYSTEC) to try and pose as telemarketers. User Gerald says about his call from 5186211390:

I got this call from “NYSTEC” but I figured out rather quickly that it was scam. Someone is “spoofing” their number cause NYSTEC doesn’t make any telemarketing calls or ask for donations. Nor would it ask personal information or even credit card information in that way.

NYSTEC soon cottoned onto the fact that their number was being used by a spoof caller and released a statement on their website.

More dramatically, last week’s ‘sheriff’ blog aptly illustrates how successful a daring fraudster can be. Numerous cases of sheriff-impersonation have been springing up all over the United States, convincing vulnerable citizens to, for example, bail out a relative or pay their way out of an arrest warrant.

A non-existent ‘Donald Mack’ from Kern County Sheriff’s department (9164148678) tried to tell user Jen that there was a warrant out for her arrest. The genuine sheriff’s department, when Jen called them back, confirmed that it’s not possible to be ‘served’ over the phone. Kudos to Jen for the cool-headed approach!

Fraudsters will even impersonate a string of different people, calling you back on different, faked numbers, working their way up a disciplinary hierarchy to try and scare you into paying up.

The numbers used by spoofers range from any old number, to the very frustrating 000-000-0000 number variants, to the phone numbers of prestigious organisations. Difficulty in tracking down the culprits is increased thousandfold by the fact that the origin of the call is completely untraceable. Without an area code, there is generally no way of discerning where or who a call has come from; this means that internationally-placed spoof calls are becoming increasingly common – hence the transatlantic team-up.

The joint statement, published on the ICO’s website, avers that the six regulators

will work together to share information and target organizations responsible for spoofing.

The member organisations will pool resources, share information and work together with telecommunications industries in their respective countries to target and reprimand offending organisations. Guidelines on what constitutes ‘misuse’ of the spoofing technique are also being reconsidered and clarified, with a view to introducing tougher punitive measures. And it’s not just the scam callers that are being targeted; silent and abandoned calls will be treated with equal severity.

For now though, until that distant day when spoofers and scammers have been silenced once and for all, remember to second-guess that unknown caller! Stay suspicious and have a great week.

Your tellows team