Tricksters and fraudsters

Source : Google photo of tricksters and scammers

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Synopsis: There have always been tricksters and fraudulent people who took advantage of the gullible and greedy people but now they have become more sophisticated because they now use computers in call centers to scam people around the world. It has become a multibillion-dollar industry that shows no sign of abating. The blog looks at their modus operandi and warns you to stay away from them.

As we see the development of the computer technology that has made it easy for anyone to send e mail messages, photos and videos or talk for free on Skype or Zoom to anyone anywhere anytime, we also notice a phenomenal rise in Cybercrime. It affects the older generation more than anyone else because they tend to be less computer savvy and have no idea how the computer works and how some bad people get hold of them and cajole them to reveal their credit card numbers or other sensitive bank data. They are called the cyber criminals who are mostly young meaning less than 30 years of age and who speak English fluently although with an accent.

It works like this. Just suppose you are an old woman in California, and you have a glitch with your computer, so you click on a link for the technical service of the manufacturer of your hardware and ask for their help in resolving your problems. What you do not know is that clicking the link will bring you to a website the cyber criminals operate somewhere in the world and promise to solve your technical issues.

They will talk to you in a soothing and smart voice and assure you that your problems will be solved if you answer a few questions and provide some information about your credit card number or bank account number. These criminals can see your screen and what you are typing so nothing is hidden from them. They will also say that the service to solve your particular problem will cost you 350 dollars and 99 cents or some such figure and ask if you are willing to proceed. If you agree, then they will deduct this amount from your account within seconds. The USD 350.99 is the red flag so turn off your PC immediately although it may be too late.

If you have doubts about them because of their Un-American accent and ask them who they are and from where they are calling, they will tell you that they are located somewhere in California and they represent the company that sold you the hardware.

What they will never tell you is that they are calling you from a call center in India or the Philippines or some other location and they are scammers who will empty your account as soon as you call them for their service, and they will vanish leaving no trace like a phantom. They are very computer savvy people who know how to bait an old person who does not understand how the Internet works and how they can see your screen, what you are typing and what you look like. They do not represent any company that sold you your computer but are experts in guiding you to their trap and gently cajole you to reveal your sensitive information.

This type of cybercrime is committed daily to victimize millions of people all over the world and has become a multibillion-dollar industry that keeps on growing but the authorities have a very difficult time to catch them, arrest them and prosecute them because the policemen are not well educated to understand the complexity of the technology, so these fake call centers are sprouting like mushrooms in big cities of India and the Philippines.

The policemen often say that the crime was committed in another country, so it is outside their jurisdiction or some such lame excuse. Believe it or not, most people still do not understand how the Internet works and how it connects to computers in other countries with blazing speed so these criminals take advantage of the technology ignorance of their victims and openly brag that the police will never catch them and prosecute them.

This crime is so lucrative for them that they say that just in 24 hours they can earn enough money to last a month so now you can understand why young people of both sexes are attracted to work in these spurious call centers where they can make so much money just by making some calls.

Many cyber criminals start out as legitimate technical experts working for some big companies where they learn all the intricacies of how to work on the computer and its various programs. Later they open up their own call centers to work fulltime because they know that they cannot be caught easily or sent to jail. With the money earned they move into posh residences, buy fancy cars and other things but their greed for more money is insatiable.

There is a modern multistory glass and steel building in the posh business district of Gurugram that is just near Delhi where the ground and a few floors are occupied by the big technology companies who operate their legitimate business, but all the rest of the floors are filled with these fake call centers reaping millions of dollars from their illegal activities. Such call centers have sprouted in most of the big cities like Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai just to name a few. They are very busy making calls in the middle of the night when it is the daytime somewhere else in the world and use late model computers and peripherals like cameras, high speed computers, modems and super sensitive microphones etc.

These call centers have also become vice centers where young men and women come in close contact with each other day after day, so the biology starts to kick in when they are alone during the night. You can imagine the rest. It is inevitable that at some point drugs and alcohol start flowing as well.

Here is a video that explains it all in vivid details :

Source : U tube video

Now the smart phones serve the same purpose as a personal computer so you can use your phone to connect to the Internet, call someone on skype or send e mails, photos and videos to anyone anytime. The smart phones come with high-definition camera that can take still or video photos even in dim light.

These smart phones have become so popular that the scammers in rural areas use them to lure in their victims and promise them the delivery of a new car or something to their doors if they simply pay the reservation fee of few thousand Rupees. Once they receive the money in their account, they vanish while the victim waits for his car that never arrives. When they see the police, vans are approaching their village, they scatter like birds. They even fill the dirt roads with water so that the police vehicles bog down in the mud while the criminal’s escape.

They say that they are retired army men because people trust Army people more than others. These scams are mostly local, so the scammers need only know fluent Hindi. They destroy their SIM cards every three days so that their phones cannot be traced by the police.

Now the Indian government is hiring young people who are experts in IT (Information technology) and have rich experience to fight Cybercrimes. They infiltrate the call centers by posing as their customers and can remotely see their computer screen to see what they are typing to expose them. The data thus obtained are then used by the police to shut them down, but they sprout up somewhere else within days. Rarely these types of criminals are prosecuted so they carry on just like before. They are also very good in hiding their identity because they know how.

It is like the FBI in the United States that often hires ex-cons and ex cyber criminals who have served their time and now teach the FBI how to catch the scammers. There was a movie made on the subject, but I have forgotten the title.

So, if you are over 50, living alone and have technical glitches with your PC, please do not click on these toll-free numbers. Turn off your PC immediately before the scammers download your data. You should see a red flag as soon as the scammer in a foreign accent asks for your credit card number or your bank account number. A reputed company that sells the hardware will never ask you for these data so the safest way is to go to a reliable store where a trained technician will easily solve your problem for a small fee. These technicians are trained by the big companies in problem solving so you should ask the companies where their legitimate service centers are.

Unfortunately, our world is full of con people who pose as door-to-door salesmen or insurance sellers, property sellers etc. They are found in every country who take advantage of old and vulnerable people.

Once I started receiving e mails that said that I had won a huge amount in a lottery that I had never participated in and asked for a big amount as a service fee before they will send me the money. I knew it was a scam, so I answered in big red letters … You have been notified to the Interpol that will soon arrest you no matter where you live.  It was a bluff, but the scammer did not know that.

The emails stopped coming because it put fear in them. Then I started receiving e mails from a Nigerian scammer who claimed that she is the daughter of a general who is in prison somewhere, but she had access to his loot. Now she needs me to give her my bank account number so that she can transfer this loot to my account for a 10 percent fee that she will pay me. Again, I warned this con person that he or she will be prosecuted soon because I have alerted the authorities and have given them his e mail address. The e mails stopped. I do not know why there are so many scammers in Nigeria in particular.

I know a city in India called Jalandhar in Punjab state that is well known for all sorts of scammers. They are so bold that they advertise their racket in Newspapers and find some suckers who are greedy so easily fall into their trap. We all know about the pyramid scammers so beware. There was one pyramid scammer in the United States who was called Madoff who is now serving time for all the money he stole.

If his name alone did not raise a red flag, then you need some serious counseling my friend. If something is too good to be true, then you can be sure it never is.

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