I’m a pretty avid reader of Bob Sullivan, who writes the Red Tape Chronicles blog over at MSNBC, so when I got an unsolicited phone call last week offering me $1,500 if I’d just answer a few online questions, I thought about his online diary of Internet scams, frauds and free lunch offers. I was able to record most of the scam call in a way it could be shared, I shared it with Sullivan, and he shared it with his readers.
On the surface, the recording is just two people lying to each other. I literally made up a CV as I went along, taking the middle and last names of the turn-of-the-century booze-bashing evangelist Billy Sunday as my own. On the other end of the line, a parade of South Asian accents trying to convince me that $1,500 in free money was “not for everybody” but was certainly within my grasp. I suspect it was lost on them that when one of them chose “Jack Daniels,” as a supervisor’s name, it meant that Jack Daniels was still tempting Billy Sunday.
Beneath the surface is the complicated multiple threads of communication that make this scam possible. From the strength of the scammer’s accents, I suspect the boiler-room is in South Asia, the call transported as voice-over-IP and dumped on the US switched network through a portal in Seattle, WA. The victim is urged to upload the sensitive financial data to a website on a Denver-based Internet provider, which the scammers have access to.
To the Internet-challenged, the scammers spin a tale that the website and boiler-room aren’t connected; I bet some of their victims never fully understand the exact method of their victimization, and even if they do, the modern ability to connect nearly everything with nearly everything else on a worldwide scale makes it almost impossible to track down and prosecute the people responsible.