back to article Courts cry over cunning call-center criminals crafting convincing cons

US federal courts have alerted Americans to a fresh crop of scams in which conmen are setting up call centers and impersonating government agencies. The advisory describes how criminals are pretending to be US marshals and court agents, demanding victims hand over money for a supposed failure to appear for jury duty. "This …

  1. Herby

    Just ask them...

    For something identifying YOU. Follow up with a request for date of birth.

    Otherwise: Fool, Money, soon parted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just ask them...

      For something identifying YOU. Follow up with a request for date of birth.

      Errrr....did you not spot those various data breaches at health insurers, retailers, telcos, and, well, everybody else?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just ask them...

      …and if they happened to have that information (e.g. snarfed from the database of a compromised website)?

      (Ohh snap, Ledswinger beat me to it by milliseconds.)

  2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    the best course of action is to hang up...

    Yeah right. Reminds me of the time when an employee of mine told a representative from the Valuation Office Agency to "call back another day, the boss is out...".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Damn criminals

    They're upping their game, so up yours!

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    What's with the sudden use of the word "cunning" in titles and sub-heads lately?

    Was this the word of the week or something? Did I miss a cunning memo?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Matt Bieneman

    Old news.

    This has been going on for several years. I know several people that they have called; none of them fell for the scam but it is still very annoying. They are cowards who mainly prey on vulnerable elderly and spouses of recently deceased people who may be susceptible to this kind of scam. Still, good to have as much publicity as possible to make sure that everyone knows about the scam.

    Here is one link from two years ago: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/scammers-continuing-pose-irs-agents

    Also check out how much this scam (or at least the IRS variant) has been growing: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0519-irs-imposter-scams-infographic

  6. Craig 2

    In your head, just imagine unsolicited phone calls are an actual person walking up to you on the street asking the same questions. You'll soon realize that no way are you falling for that shit and hang up.

  7. MotionCompensation

    Keep them talking

    Don't hang up! Every minute spent talking to you is one not spent scamming someone else. So just ask lots of questions and keep them busy!

    https://youtu.be/VT2BNsMSwEo

    1. Nolveys
      Devil

      Re: Keep them talking

      I like to do that with phone scum too. I once had someone trying to get me to email or fax them financial information, I managed to keep them on the phone for an hour and a half. Firstly I continuously sent them emails (from a bs account, of course) with the attachment missing and acted surprised each time the guy I was talking to told me that there was no attachment. I then emailed a specimen that I got off of google images and which I pixelated to the point where it was just barely not legible. Then the upside-down version of same image, then sideways, then more pixelated. On to the fax machine...

      He finally gave up on email and asked me to fax the information and, after the requisite seven minutes required to send a non-existent fax on a non-existent fax machine, I triumphantly told them that I had sent the fax. The person on the other end had to leave his desk to check the fax machine. He eventually got back and told me that he hadn't gotten the fax, so I "sent it" again. After about five attempts he asked me what the display on my non-existent fax machine said, I said "load error 372". He spent *forever* trying to trouble-shoot my fax machine I finally used an online faxing service to send them the same pixelated image from earlier, followed by 30 pages of pure black.

      The person I was talking to, in spite of the pixelization, eventually realized that I was faxing him the wrong version of the document he was looking for and called me on it. I replied, through thinly veiled laughter "hold please" and proceeded to give myself a hernia as I listened to him screaming obscenities.

  8. All names Taken
    IT Angle

    But what are the meta-implications?

    If we assume that the only successful scams/attacks/frauds/ ... / ... are the popular ones isn't it telling us something about the weaknesses in the system and meta-weaknesses too?

    So should some well funded organization just make it easy to authenticate something as important as a legal document/message and email system to spot lack of authenticity?

    Oh wait ...

  9. Sooty

    a number of indian IT professionals in our office

    have been targeted by calls claiming visa issues and they'll be held in prison/deported unless they pay. While it's obviously a scam to us, unfortunately paying the police/government to fast track things and sort out issues is normal over there, so they thought nothing of it. Luckily their bank stopped it and told them it was a scam when they've tried to pay.

    One of the guys said they had enough information to convince them it was genuine, and everyone targeted all seem to use the same mobile provider who specialise in cheap overseas calls, so it might even be an inside job.

  10. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    Re: a number of indian IT ...

    a number of indian IT professionals in our office

    Maybe it would be a good time to data-mine the telco, its staff/employees/temps/ ... professional and personal comms and bank accounts?

    As a PS one of my big fears is that BIG powers left in little hands without proper scrutiny (equally too much improper scrutiny) can just be a means and method into self interest. No?

    But maybe that always was the intention (eg FBI on the Apple)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's face reality

    The Internet, and information technology have totally screwed us - most of the phone calls I get at work and at home these days are scams. Once upon a time the Internet was a beautiful youth, fresh with the idealism of the innocent - nowadays it's a broken old, crack addled, hack that needs a bullet in the front of the head.

  12. Lee D Silver badge

    Nothing legally binding happens over the phone (a verbal contract being worth the paper it's printed on, etc.).

    Send me a letter. With a return address. Which I will verify.

    As someone who HAS had court bailiffs knocking on my door (not looking for me, I hasten to add), they are infinitely more likely to turn up (and be happy for you to call police to verify identity, etc.) or send you a dozen letters first. Phone calls don't figure until after they've made first contact.

    And emails? No. Let's not be silly.

    Like all things, put your concern in writing and I'll deal with it, until then you're just some guy SAYING that I owe you money or I'm going to jail. Put it in writing and I can use it against you in a court of law (I imagine, and I have a reasonable way to deal with the situation in my own time. Until it's on paper, it doesn't matter what you promised me, what you say I owe you, or anything else. And the guys who come to your door bring paper if you're GENUINELY that elusive that you've missed months of communications, and are very understanding when you ask if it's okay to call the police to verify their identity and authority.

    As someone who's invited companies to sue my person on several occasions, even offering to initiate in small claims on their behalf if necessary, I have yet to have anyone actually take me up on the practice once things are put in writing. Especially not the insurance company that tried to retroactively cancel my insurance and were mistaken to think I wouldn't keep the still-postmarked letter describing those actions, and another which said I "had nothing more to pay" quite clearly - letter which strangely they "could find no trace of in their system" until I was able to furnish them with copies.

    However, I think it must have jogged their memory slightly as they switched from "We're going to take you to court" to "Please don't take us to court or report it to the financial authorities, here have some compensation".

    Get it on paper. Until then, it literally DOES NOT EXIST.

  13. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Didn't read the article, but top-notch heading!

    My compliments!

    Only that "over" is s light negative. Can anyone come up with a suitable substitute starting with C?

  14. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    "Legal looophole" scams

    One legal scam I hate are web sites that offer services such as passport, driving licence, visa renewals and similar. They simply accept all your details and forward them to the official government online service, but charge you twice as much. They are set up to feature prominently in a Google search and designed to appear as if they are the official route. Though I suppose it's little different to setting up an e-retail site that simply re-advertises products from Amazon at marked-up prices, and then buys from Amazon as and when a product is ordered, re-packages and forwards the goods to the buyer.

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