back to article Tech support scammers go analog, ask victims to mail bundles of cash

Cybercriminals are taking their business offline in a new approach to familiar technical support scams recently identified by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. In a bulletin published yesterday, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center says it's noticed a recent uptick in technical support scams across the US that, …

  1. vtcodger Silver badge

    Even crooks

    Even scammers and crooks are concluding that conducting financial transactions on the Internet is neither secure nor safe?

  2. heyrick Silver badge

    I'd happily mail them a stuffed envelope. It just wouldn't be stuffed with cash.

    1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

      A lot of alternatives, such as:

      1. White powder

      2. Extra strong sneezing powder (in case they are stupid enough to snort #1)

      3. Cash? You want "cash"? I thought you said you said, "cachet".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A GPS tracker, or Apple AirTag?

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          A glitter bomb, with GPS trackers and cameras :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not sneezing but itching

        2. Good string Itching Powder applied between each layer of magazine (it is magazine pages all the way down...)

        No need to hope they'll snort when we know they'll unwrap (the first few layers at least).

  3. b0llchit Silver badge

    It's not clear why scammers are employing the new tactic,...

    Because it sells?

    Seriously, anybody falling for this crap almost deserves to part with their wealth. The scammers aren't even sophisticated. People should be an absolute cynic when dealing with computers and anything that happens on the world wide internetwork. That'd save you a lot of money.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Tell me you don't have elderly relatives without telling me. I am currently trying to help my in-laws deal with computer issues after they got hit by a social engineering attack. Meanwhile, they have to change account numbers and passwords all over the place, which is confounding them. It's easy to blame the victim, and commentards do love to do so, but maybe cultivate an ounce of fucking compassion beforehand.

      1. b0llchit Silver badge

        That is why I said: "almost deserve". And, the elderly relatives have no problems spotting social engineering.

        Maybe "Wag the Dog" should be mandatory and adapted to cover computers?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "And, the elderly relatives have no problems spotting social engineering."

          It depends. A couple of years or so ago we had a book launch in a local hotel for one of the history group's books. The writer told me that before I arrived she'd had a call from her husband saying not to ring her on the land-line because he was waiting for the bank to call back. She quickly realised he'd fallen for a scam, called the bank, got the transaction cancelled having been able to confirm her identity by a recent card transaction - she'd just bought a coffee at the bar. Her husband is an ex-maths teach, in fact I believe an ex-headmaster so you'd think he should have been able to spot it. But he's well into his nineties and, as she explained to me, from a family of bank managers so inclined to trust anyone who claims to be from a bank.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          no problems spotting social engineering...

          Social engineering is, of course, easy to spot, ... except, that is, when it's social engineering targeted - either by luck or design - at *your* weak point.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      They're employing the tactic because it makes it hard to get the money back later. Transfers into someone else's account has been a popular method, but they can't often set up plenty of their own accounts and need to commandeer someone else's to do it, with some chance of things getting blocked in the middle. Cryptocurrency has the not being taken back points, but it's rather difficult to get people to understand how to get it and transfer it, what with that talk of private keys and exchanges waiting until funds are present before you can take it. Cash is pretty hard to revoke and pretty easy for victims to get, so they're trying out that method. It might prove difficult after a while, but they innovate with their stealing methods to try to keep the cash flowing.

      1. David Pearce

        The scammers have found that cryptocurrencies are very public and hard to spend without being arrested

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          That's another point, as they'd have to mix them thoroughly before using it and exchanging it for cash is harder as you get into smaller scale criminals. Still, I think the difficulty getting the nontechnical to get it probably doesn't help its case either. I wouldn't want to try walking someone through all the steps needed to successfully buy and transfer cryptocurrency over the phone; there are a lot of moving parts in that transaction.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


            The thought of trying to talk my Mum through buying Crypto almost makes me want some scammer to try it on.

            She's aware, but where technology is concerned she's still somewhat easy to confuse. Back a few years ago when TalkTalk got their engineering database hacked (or it was an inside job) they got talking to her because she was expecting a call from a TalkTalk engineer. But as soon as they asked for money she said, "you've already got a direct debit, so use that." And called me to de-louse her PC, as she'd worked out it was a scam. I knew about the scam from El Reg. Sadly she still already fallen for TalkTalk's sales pitch, despite my warnings. They're cheap for a reason.

            The "TalkTalk engineer" had got her to downloaded Team Viewer. Fortunately a legit copy, so clean-up afterwards was easy. He used it to get her to the Western Union website to tranfer him some money. Which is how she knew it was a scam. I reckon if he'd tried to get her to buy some Bitcoin he'd still be on the call with her now.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            "That's another point, as they'd have to mix them thoroughly before using it"

            And while they're doing that they might find one of their exchanges collapsed because that had been scammed.

        2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          It's also becoming increasingly difficult to turn actual money into kleptocurrency and back again. The scammers must have given up trying to provide "how to buy and send buttcoins" tutorials to victims.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    According to a 2021 report from Microsoft

    So many people are actually believing our marketing that we all get a free week in the holiday destination of our choice.

  5. David 132 Silver badge


    “And it goes without saying, but if a representative from a supposedly legitimate business asks you to send an obfuscated package stuffed with cash to a random address … don't.”


    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: FTFA


      Go and tidy your room!

  6. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    It's in the mail, but...

    The shipping company says there's an ongoing dispute with your address. I don't know the details, but if you can send me another $150 I have can have it resolved so your bundle of cash will be back in your hands.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is it *always* illegal to send poop via the mail?

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm

      It's definitely not.

    2. Yorick Hunt Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmm

      The Australian federal health ministry has been asking me to send them my poop (supposedly for bowel cancer screening) for the past several years, so evidently it's not illegal.

      Before the half-cocked go full-cocked: I had the screening done by a local - reputable - lab, so don't feel inclined to accede to the government's desires.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmmm

        I send them a sample each time they ask.

        1. Invaluable free health check

        2. I’m sending poop to the Government


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmmmm

          Well that's if you discount the possibility that they're building up a bank of DNA profiles so they can frame you up when they need a convenient patsy.

          Fortunately we have a local dispensary of random fecal samples for those wishing to avoid handing over their most personal data, it's at the end of the street, labelled "dog poo bin".

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Scammers, who the FBI says in this case are mostly targeting older adults"

    As I'm well on my way to becoming an older adult, I have a question : could these scammers please start sending their missives by snail mail ?

    I mean, that gives an entire other level of authenticity and importance, doesn't it ?

    That way, I could laugh all the way to the trash bin at the thought of all that money they're wasting on me . . .

    Oh well, one can dream.

    1. that one in the corner Silver badge

      Re: "Scammers, who the FBI says in this case are mostly targeting older adults"

      > could these scammers please start sending their missives by snail mail ?

      That is precisely what happened to me, about a year ago now. I'd been bemoaning the lack of Nigerian Princes sending emails when a forward fee scam arrived through the letterbox.

      Bloody awful quality paper these overseas "best lawyers team" use!

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