Put an answering machine on the old one, and have a "safe" relative check it every other day or so. Give the new phone number to family and friends.
After a few weeks of getting nothing but answering machine messages, the scammers will go away.
If the old number has been cancelled, the scammers know you're on to them. And look for the new number. If the old number still works, they won't look for a new number. Mostly.
Or an even better idea - transfer the number to a reputable VOIP provider and setup the number so that it rejects calls from all numbers except for the ones you specify. Your loved ones can still call but any other scammer would get a busy signal or whatever you specify as the destination. You could even direct unknown calls to you (you can setup a time condition) - and that would give you the ability to add that number to the whitelist if it was a legit caller.
Added benefit - the service will be vastly cheaper.
> If the old number has been cancelled, the scammers know you're on to them.
I can guarantee you that they don't care if you are "on to them". They just stop calling because no one is picking up the line.
I think that depends on how big a fish you are to them, or at least your relative size in their food chain. If you have someone worth a few hundred to you every month, you'll probably put in some extra work if you can't get that money for a month or two to try to recover that source.
Sure, they could walk around your barriers and scam your relative... or they could shrug it off, carry on with their list, and scam another five or ten people in the same time frame.
However, callcentric already has it built and much easier to understand than twilio. I'm not saying that service is bad - but the average person doesn't know what API, cloud, or SIP means (or care). Callcentric makes it pretty obvious what their service is and provides and how to use it.
Someone already has done this (with Twilio) to win the FTCs RoboCall Challenge: https://www.twilio.com/blog/2013/04/twilio-powered-nomorobo-...
I also like Twilio ;)
"Legal" robo dialer is fairly easy to block. We blocked it on our systems using the same ideas as in the link. Look for repeated calls, low call duration, etc. However, this did not impact our calling stats at all.
That's right, even filtering out all the "known" dialer, we still had tons of shitty dialer traffic coming. The scammier the dialer, the more inclined they are to just make up a new caller ID for each call. Then there's no real pattern and it's easy to slip through. This is illegal and the FCC can fine $10K a day or something. But they don't.
That's the REAL problem. There's never any follow up. Sure, end-users complain now and then. What does that do? It makes one telco pass up a request "please review or block this number". That's it. It is utterly ineffective.
If the FCC was actually serious, they'd start enforcing rules and hold companies accountable. If I, as a VoIP provider, am liable for my customers to a certain extent, then I'm gonna be a bit more selective. I'll make sure my $29 customers aren't faking caller ID or sending lots of calls. On the wholesale side, I will make sure my contracts contain harsh penalties and keep customers liable. It'll take a few months for stuff to trickle down and be enforceable, but eventually the FCC can simply start handing out fines and this whole game will be over.
There's nothing really stopping this from happening other than the FCC not wanting to do it. Sometimes people say "oh well the problem is someone in Elbonia can sign up for $15 and get going" - yeah well eventually their calls hit the US network, and US law applies. If the provider is letting the Elbonians do their scam, the provider is liable. End of story. Suddenly, providers will require a deposit and scammers will piss off.
It doesn't even have to be a large fine. Just making the cost of making up a new identity be non-trivial (a few hundred dollars is probably enough) will put a pin in it.
> Unfortunately, Nomorobo is not available on traditional analog landlines or wireless phones at this time.
Sounds like he failed the challenge...
I don't think his idea is revolutionary - one could setup Asterisk to do what he did.
Incidentally: NoMoRobo gains some utility specifically because Twilio exists. A trivial example: phone numbers have a history to them. Most customers of Twilio want to buy phone numbers with a relatively clean history, i.e., ones that were not widely distributed prior to their life with that customer, to avoid misdirected calls or e.g. reputational issues. NoMoRobo wants precisely the opposite -- they literally ask Twilio to provision them with phone numbers which are otherwise unsaleable to customers, for example because those numbers are actively getting spammed to death. (Twilio has an entire team of people whose job is telephone number quality. Things you wouldn't have guessed existed in the world, right?)
This works great for NoMoRobo's use case, because a phone number getting spammed to death is perfect for them -- it lets them cheaply capture a lot of phone numbers which one has a high confidence are spam rather than ham.
It was rather interesting to see how people reacted together. One person would call in, angry, another person would call in, soon there'd be 4 people all yelling at each other "Well you called me!" "No I didn't!" "Now listen here, I think maybe the wires are crossed" and on and on. Sometimes they'd gang up together and try to sort problems out, but often it'd just degenerate into name calling.
Anyways, it's sad that NoMoRobo exists. The FCC could trivially put an end to scam calls, robo-dialing, etc., with a couple days of drafting a new regulation, and then a few months to implement it. Source: I've handled billions of calls, much of which were dialer traffic. I've worked on both sides (trying to block traffic, trying to get upstreams to take traffic).
How would they enforce the regulations though without NSA style SS7 taps throughout US telcom network infrastructure?
Twilio is stupid simple to prototype and get up and running with, at which point you could transition to your own SIP provider with a cluster of Asterisk servers when you're at scale.
The first is the sunk cost falacity / escalation of commitment ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escalation_of_commitment ) - if you've already given the scammers $500, your choices are either to admit that you've been scammed and will never see that money again. The alternative is to convince yourself that you really are going to get the money (and you haven't been scammed) if you just send them a little bit more...
The second factor is that at a certain age most people begin to lose their judgement. You don't have to have full on dementia, just slightly less good judgement than you had when you were younger, in order to fall for on of these scams.
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/25/your-money/as-cognitivity-... - "As Cognition Slips, Financial Skills Are Often the First to Go". Interestingly, financially savvy people who actively manage their money are at a much higher risk of losing everything to bad decisions at an older age.
Think if this same person has late stage cancer and believed they were gonna make it despite all odds it would be an inspiring lifetime movie. But unfortunately I think these are the same people who also believe that a Nigerian prince needs them to transfer some money before they will be handsomely rewarded against all odds.
Lots of otherwise reasonable people are willing to delude themselves for a shot at a windfall.
My dad grew up on a farm, in a log cabin with a dirt floor. He remembered those phones I have only ever seen in black and white movies (http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=old+party+line+phone&FOR...). He was able to tell me those phones were a party line, something I had never known. In other words, one phone line serviced the entire town. Anyone with a phone could pick up when it rang and potentially listen in on your call. There was no expectation of privacy.
He just could not keep up with the rate and level of change in his last years. The world had changed too much and he no longer wanted to try to understand. It was just not the world he grew up in.
People also were less likely to be college educated back then. There are ways in which they genuinely lacked the sophistication we just assume people are supposed to have.
My parents were/are very good hearted people and the way the world has changed just does not fit with how they related to it for so much of their lives. This is probably true for a great many other elderly people.
Since you're barely awake, and your son/daughter is indeed away (eg. on night shift or staying with friends), and the fact that some cops are corrupt, and somehow you can't call (busy line) your son/daughter to verify, make people fall prey to this scam.
The interesting part is: how do they know the relationship of the victims, and the location (i.e away from home) at that point in time, considering the scammers are sometimes from different island?
Probably they don't. If the victim says "but I don't have a son" they just hang-up. Scattershot approach, not targeted.
They did call again, I picked them up on the fact that it was a scam and asked them how they justify their actions to themselves and ask questions about how the scam works. I'll see how it goes but I seem to have got myself on some kind of blacklist as nobody has called in a month (used to get some kind of scam call at least one a week). It's unfortunate that wasting their time is the most effective defense I can think of.
And regarding the guy who committed suicide, don't you dare try to shift blame to his family for not limiting his access to money. Even if it were easy to do, which it isn't, the resentment his caretaker would have to deal with might well have been too much for her to bear, and his wife and family already had enough to bear just watching his mental capabilities fade away. Until you've watched it happen to a parent or spouse, you will not understand what the immediate family has to go through.
Getting older is hard and when Alzheimer and dementia are in the early stages, before clearly identified people are vulnerable. What to do with people that can't make good decisions, or just aren't able to drive anymore.
Clearly keeping them away from firearms and removing financial access is a good idea. Those are hard but necessary discussions.
I get the IRS scam calls on my answering machine from time to time. Anoying. They've switched from the broken english to a computer voice.
One day you're going to be old, and we'll see how easily you give up certain perks of being an adult. And let's hope you have loved ones to "intervene" and care for you.
>such sever Alzheimer's
It doesn't sound like you know what severe Alzheimer's looks like.
I'm guessing you don't know anyone who's old or vulnerable, or not nearly as well as you do. You're just going to have to take it on trust that that a determined and skilful individual can get the upper hand over a vulnerable person.
Also, not everyone lives in an environment where people are caring for them or looking out for them.
We know that carers want this kind of involvement because carer's organisations say it. And when someone dies by suicide clinicians say that talking to the family would have reduced risk. (This is in the National Confidential Survey)
 carer refers to someone who provides care but is no paid to do so.
The lesson is that, as you approach old age, and if at all possible, you should give a trusted relative or close friend a durable power of attorney over your finances. In addition, (or as a second best), put your money in an irrevocable living trust assigning yourself as a beneficiary, and laying out strict rules for retrieving money.
I lived through this with first my grandfather, then my grandmother.
Or go on physically dangerous adventures in your old age, like skydiving. Or donate your funds away before you get senile, and rely on charity and public assistance
I'm sure there will be new things that I will be susceptible to in a few decades.
Also, people tend to abandon the old and vulnerable. It's just what happens. They're left alone. If the only voices they hear are the guy on the phone and their internal monologue, with no 'sensible' moderating force, and a potentially unlimited amount of time, it can be very easy for things to get skewed.
What I did find however, is a paper that claims older adults are not more likely to be defrauded than the rest of the population. I'm somewhat skeptical of the claim, but it should be evaluated: http://pps.sagepub.com/content/9/4/427.short
He didn't get scammed over the phone but he probably had his driveway re-sealed 4-5 times a year. We would chase them away but they knew they could get him when there was nobody else around. Sickening people who do this.
It seemed possible that he knew his driveway didn't need sealed, but he would sit outside and chat with them for the 3-4 hours it took to do the job.
Dementia can grow slowly over time and can impact your judgement. And said person can be highly functional at the time, so the relatives don't know until something goes wrong.
This particular scam is targeted at old people, but plenty of very lucrative scams target working age adults.
Richard and Kahlan frowned even more. "People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People's heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.
"Because of Wizards First Rule, the old wizards created Confessors, and Seekers, as a means of helping find the truth, when the truth is important enough. Darken Rahl knows the Wizard's Rules. He is using the first one. People need an enemy to feel a sense of purpose. It's easy to lead people when they have a sense of purpose. Sense of purpose is more important by far than the truth. In fact, truth has no bearing in this. Darken Rahl is providing them with an enemy, other than himself, a sense of purpose. People are stupid; they want to believe, so they do."
— Chapter 36, p.560, U.S. paperback edition of Terry Goodkind's awesome book with the same title.
That means they are both more sophisticated and physiologically more mentally healthy. It's hard to separate the two.
Does that only work on Alzheimer's disease, and not dementia in general?
The part I was mostly querying was about money being protective. It probably isn't. rich people probably get dementia at the same rate as poor people.
> Unlike age and genetics, certain health and lifestyle factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease risk may be controlled. Scientists are exploring prevention strategies to determine whether or not things like exercise, diet, and “brain games” can help delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline. They are also investigating how certain medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, influence risk for cognitive impairment.
> So far, studies have not demonstrated that, over the long term, health or lifestyle factors can prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease or age-related cognitive decline. Similarly, clinical trial results do not support the use of any particular medication or dietary supplement to prevent these conditions.
This is marketing at work. There's been a huge PR campaign over the past ~10 years to convince people that "brain fitness" is an actual thing, including the idea that it is specifically useful for preventing dementia, but the science isn't really there.
In this case, the scammers took advantage of an elderly man, inflicted with Alzheimer's and diminishing mental capacity. Sad.
But that can't be the case for the majority. How on earth do "normal" people fall for this? I can see, maybe, when the internet was young and this was new. But it's a pop culture joke now. Those numbers are staggering.
Scammer groups that have survived for this long got to hone their skills of manipulation and persuasion (and have the money to continue operations). We are all to a degree vulnerable to persuasion, and it used by scammers, but also businesses: "Temporarily free version of Microsoft 10. Get yours now! It's easy. 10 million people have already upgraded."
Older people have trusted phones for all their lives. They are more vulnerable to these than email scams. Locally there is now a scam involving people who dress up as home care, visit one hour before the real home care person, tell them they are the new replacement, then proceed to ransack the place for valuables. I could see myself falling victim to that.
They played on this old man's hope and financial worries ("greed" in less positive terms). Stories like these gravely sadden me. Hits close to home too: Both my father and mother were targeted, one over email (cloud backup scam), the other over the phone (helpdesk scam). I hope to build a product in the future to help combat these online and offline scams.
How do people fall for phishing scams or running malware from an email attachment? The answer to that question is the same to yours. I think it's a combination of lack of public education about scams and the belief that the email or phone call is legit.
And I think it's really interesting. A lot of people talk about "infected" PDFs - I've personally never seen that but what I usually see are:
Most sane email providers should scrub that attachment (or bounce it) - however email providers such as AOL don't. Thanks AOL.
I run my own email service and I get emails like these all the time . And if you are someone who takes the tollway daily it could be a scary email that you open right away.
I do want to mention Amazon's practices. So it appears their system glitches and spews out this email to random people . This email is plain text and, at least the last time I logged into my account, has no indication that they want this information (it does say that "functionality is limited" but those instructions that say to login to the site and submit your information are incorrect which immediately makes me think it's a scam - it even has typos that you would find on a scam email!). It's even been reported that customer service says that it is a scam. However, it is real and an easy template to scam people out of their identity. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee at starbucks you can get an 800 number from a VOIP provider with faxing ability. I've contacted Amazon about it....and they just sent me the same email back. Thanks Amazon.
(You don't know how tempted I am to write a cron job that faxes a copy of my drivers license to them every hour)
While not lottery scams you would think that in a work environment where there is constant education on what to look out for it still happens.
I wouldn't attribute it to stupidity. Just getting caught at the right moment.
They don't have to convince everybody, just enough people to make it worthwhile. With third-world wages and cheap internet telephony, that number is surprisingly small. Some (but not many) people are just lonely/trusting/deluded.
In all fairness, just like the phone scams, people are warned the best they can be about start-up lottery tickets.
I've seen many elderly individuals playing the markets with far too little knowledge of how they work, thinking they can win.
Making it much harder to transfer money anonymously seems both helpful in these cases, and lucrative for lawyers.
Fraudsters also tend to get pretty decent about instructing their marks to structure payments to avoid the obvious controls, for example by using mules [+] or by striping a $5,000 transfer into multiple smaller transfers on different days to different recipients controlled by the same operation. This is explained to the mark as something like "Oh, different tax bureau than last time" but it's operationally to avoid having velocity checks tripped at WU.
[ + ] Witting or unwitting co-conspirators who receive money in their own name and then forward it to the criminals, often for a cut of the profits.
1. Change the phone number system to require 207 digit phone numbers instead of the current 10 digits.
2. Assign random phone numbers to everybody.
Now the only people who can call you are the people who know you. You have to actively share your number with people. If people call random numbers they will get "not in service" messages all day long.
We have 20 years of experience with NEW communication systems with NEW addressing systems where people can't connect without knowing your email address or IM handle. It can be done, i.e. it is workable to require people to share contact info before you can communicate. People will find a way.
What I suggested has many flaws I just don't think extending a current, shitty system is all that useful especially since the majority of these phone numbers are purchased anyway (almost no one dials random numbers to figure out if someone is there, who they are, etc).
With as much address space as is available in IPv6, it shouldn't be hard to create something that points to the person yet is malleable enough to not be easily abuse.
Fix, 300+ for two years protection or 400 or so for three years. Needless to say fixing a password locked Windows computer is beyond the majority out there. Apparently its pretty common to declare themselves from Dell, Microsoft, or similar.
The modern day roofers, driveway sealers, and such.
on a side note, who do you report these guys too?
What we need is not stop denying there are populations at risk from the overwhelming disclosure of private information into the public, and start taking measures to educate the most vulnerable people, and if need be, isolate them from the (public?) online world. I know walled gardens are taboo, but they did make - and continue to make - a lot of sense once the Internet began to fill with lay (as in, not part of the technorati) people.
Google still takes ads from iYogi. If you call iYogi they will try to scam you, over and over again. This has been going on for years. Has no one complained to Google about this? What about Apple, aren't they concerned about their brand being tarnished over unwitting seniors typing "Apple tech support" into their browsers and running into a tech support scam?
It was a different scam, where the victims where enrolled in regular lottery gambling (with a monthly rate) and the twist was, that when they found a victim, it was enrolled in more and more games (every game costing maybe $50-100) which where just automatically drawn from his bank account. Even when the victims objected ... the letters where simply not read by anybody.
I'd like to see these scammers hanged on national TV without hoods over their faces.
Switching numbers isn't really an option I want to explore since I'm unconvinced it wouldn't just start on my new number if my carrier was the origin of the calls.
I also started getting letters that look like bills for my LLC but are actually just junk mail for SEO services. Those ones really pissed me off. Looks just like an invoice with "This is not a bill" in tiny font at the bottom.
Whoever sent it is still an asshole though.
What's so sophisticated about it? Honest question. Seems like the oldest trick in the book, as primitive and crude as scams only get. One that couldn't possibly work against anyone but most senile people. It's a sad story, I'm just missing the "sophistication" element.
If I would say I expect real protection from police & court, I'll get laughed at these days.
Even the metadata, which they definitely collect, would be very useful.
The problem is that they pay a lot.