You are probably familiar with the tech support scam. You get a call from someone (usually from a call center in India) pretending to be from Apple or Microsoft. They tell you they have noticed a problem with your computer and ask you to open a web site that gives them remote access to your computer. Once they do that, they get you to log into your bank account so they can rob you blind.
Here's one such scammer who thinks he's talking to a woman, but he's really talking to a bot programmed to act like a harried mother. The scammer quickly becomes frustrated, and at the 2:20 point he starts to become sexually abusive. Of course, the bot doesn't react as he expects, which frustrates him even more. In the end, the bot wastes 10 minutes of the scammer's time.
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In this highly satisfying video, Jim Browning received a fake invoice for a $3800 laptop. He ended up getting a lot of personal information about the scammer and was able to scare the hell of him.
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In this video, Jim Browning (previously at BB) calls back a tech support scammer, knowing what not to do and what to say to lure them into making revealing mistakes. Browning also appears to be a gifted hacker, presumably knowing of security flaws in the remote desktop software that scammers tend to use, giving him free rein on their machines. He's quite willing to expose the details, call them in person and mess up their operations -- I laughed like a drain when he got into the scammer's PayPal and started issuing refunds to victims.
The video is amazing: when he calls the scammers directly, tells them their real names and home addresses, and puts it all to them, it's like one of those unsettlingly calm Liam Neeson revenge calls from the movies. Read the rest
Ryan Kulp teaches an online course that costs $2,100. Someone paid for the course, copied all the materials and offered them for sale on his own website, then demanded that Kulp refund the $2,100 he gave Kulp to get access to the materials. Kulp didn't take kindly to this so he plotted his revenge. He wrote this article about what transpired. Read the rest
John Lambert, a 23-year-old Tennessee man, has been charged by prosecutors with pretending to be a Manhattan attorney and grifting thousands of dollars from his would-be clients.
Oh, and by the way: he was also the co-founder of Students for Trump. Read the rest
Where Is Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh?
The host of Honest Guide conducted a sting operation against crooked convenience store employees who double the price of items, like food and water, for tourists. He recommends steering clear of stores that don't have price tags on the products. Read the rest
Phrenology (the fake science of predicting personality from the shape of your cranial bones) is like Freddy Kruger, an unkillable demon who rises from the grave every time some desperate huckster decides they need to make a few extra bucks.
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Concealed Online is an anonymously owned (the owner won't divulge his identity due to fear of reprisals) company whose customers complain scammed them by tricking them into taking its online curriculum for Virginia's farcical easy concealed carry permits, without divulging that these permits are useless in the rest of America.
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Two gentleman in the UK attempted to pull a fake collision scam on a driver by backing a scooter into her car. When the car driver told the scooterist and his "witness" that she'd recorded everything on her dashcam, the "injured" scooterist, who made a good show of being crippled, recovered instantly and both he and his accomplice made a hasty exit. I just wish she would have waited to say something about the dashcam until after the police arrived. Read the rest
Flavio Lamenza, a user experience designer, collected 11 examples of malicious websites, apps, and other designs intended to deceive users.
It's gross that Apple allows these kinds of apps in its store. My daughter was tricked by similar jerks and I had a hard time getting Apple to refund the $50 she accidentally spent. Read the rest
Last month, James "New Aesthetic" Bridle published an influential essay exploring the prolific and disturbing video-spam that had come to dominate Youtube Kids, in which seemingly algorithmically generated videos endlessly recombined a handful of Disney characters and assorted others engaged in violent, abusive and even psychosexual conduct, over a soundtrack of a few repeated public-domain kids' songs, with all sorts of trickery designed to uprank them in Youtube's play-next, recommendation and search results -- keyword stuffing, duration-stretching and more.
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The 30-year-old fire chief at a fire station in the Tokyo city of Hachioji was arrested for defrauding a woman into giving him three of her used swimsuits. Takumi Murakami told the woman via Facebook, "Do you have any athletic swimsuits that you are not using? I'm collecting swimsuits for swim teams in foreign countries that can't afford to buy their own, so I'd be very grateful if you could help me."
Via Japan Kyo:
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The woman Murakami contacted did not give him any of her swimsuits, however, in May a friend of the woman, also in her 20s, gave Murakami three of hers. Shortly thereafter, one of the woman found that the donated swimsuits were being sold via the virtual marketplace app Mercari. When confronted Murakami admitted to to lying and selling the donated swimsuits.
Police arrested Murakami on charges of fraud. He has admitted to the charges saying "I wanted to make some extra spending money." He has also admitted to having done this before a number of times.
If you're like me, you get frequent calls from scammers based in India pretending to be from the IRS. They threaten to come to my house or place of work to arrest and jail me unless I pay them alleged back taxes in the form of gift cards(!). They are laughably bad at trying to con money (see my post "An IRS scammer called me and I made him mad"), but they do well with seniors and immigrants.
According to an article on Vox, "IRS Inspector General Russell George said his department heard from about 2 million people who said they received these calls — about 10,000 of whom admitted to paying the scammers, to a tune of about $50 million. And that’s just the people who contacted them."
In order for these scams to work, the Indian scammers need to employ criminals in the US to deal with the gift cards. On Thursday 20 people in the US were arrested for allegedly participating in a fake IRS ring.
This flowchart describes how the IRS scam works.
Indian call center employees posing as the IRS may have bilked Americans out of millions
A tech support scammer explains his trade Read the rest
I get a couple of calls a week from scammers pretending to be from the IRS. I also get calls from scammers telling me that my Windows computer (I don't use Windows) has a virus. I might not get as many of these calls, at least for a while, because a major call center in India was raided on Tuesday, and 770 people were rounded up.
From Washington Post:
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More than 200 police officers descended on a tall, glass-fronted office building where the nine call centers were operating during Tuesday’s midnight raid after being tipped off by neighbors.
“It looked like a regular office building and employed a lot of young people who spoke English and had a good knowledge of computers,” Singh said. “It was a very sophisticated operation they were running.”
Locksmith scammers are in every city. They advertise on Google, promising to unlock your house or car for $29 or so. Read the rest
Lewis from Birmingham, UK is a young man who makes videos about tech support scammers. In this video, he interviews a scammer from Delhi, India who tells Lewis that he works in a call center with 50 or 60 other scammers. He says he is forced to do this crooked work because he signed a 5-year contract. He says he swindles about 10 people a day, and makes a better living than average. His dream is to move to the United States and get a legitimate job. Read the rest