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 Post subject: New Phone Scam (US)
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:48 pm 
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Well, at least this is a new one for me. There are voice messages being sent from Maryland claiming the Feds are looking at you for Social Security fraud. Now, that's definitely concerning to say the least, but always remember that US GOVT. AGENCIES DO NOT CONTACT PEOPLE BY PHONE WITHOUT PRIOR ARRANGEMENT. Nevertheless I was intrigued by the nice lady's message, and being pretty sure that this was probably a scam, I called back anyway to see what this latest gambit was. I figured it was possibly a good idea anyway, because who knows what's going on with Federal policy these days.

I first got only the sounds of a busy office. I hung up, tried again, and same thing, only this time someone calling himself Michael Frankhauser finally answered after a delay. Not the best of starts. He identified himself as an officer of the Social Security Administration, and gave me his identification number for further use in any proceedings with other officials during the call. He had an accent that I couldn't place right away, but let me just say that I wouldn't normally have associated it with any Yank named "Frankhauser". But he was articulate enough and sounded professional, even though I couldn't always understand him right away; on the benefit of a doubt, it crossed my mind that there was a thin possibility that maybe he was adopted as an adult. As our talk progressed I realized his was some kind of Indian (Subcontinental) accent, and my suspicions mounted. After a talk involving my avowal of innocence, he then transferred me to someone who it turned out was supposedly from the DEA - and that was rather a bit of whiplash.

From the beginning, as the story unfolds it increases in more new charges and enforcement actions, starting with news of Federal and State agents tailing you; then news of your identity being stolen and bank fraud committed thereby (they flashed this card throughout, stolen identity being your surest ray of hope in not facing prison); then a vehicle in your name, found in Texas with blood in it; then your being under suspicion of drug running; then arrest on the near horizon; and finally the threat of having your Social Security card, driver's licence, ID card, and bank and credit cards revoked while all Hell rains down - and whatever leverage you had is done with. It's a strung-together litany designed to keep you off balance and in fear for your future, for it banks on the average citizen's lack of knowledge of how the cogs of authority turn. But there are giveaways if you keep your head clear: inconsistencies like their phoning "the courthouse" at certain junctures. "The courthouse"? And for snap rulings given in a minute or less? It doesn't work, if you think about it. The biggest, stupidest, and most irresistible gaffe, though, was that instead of Texas, the "DEA agent" said the car was in California, and I couldn't resist catching him at that. Oh, and he had an Indic accent too. I asked him his name; he hesitated and answered, "Richard." "Richard who?" "Richard Brown." Now it was time for the gloves to come off. "You know," I said, "I'm afraid that this is all starting to sound like a scam." Boy, did he go on the defensive rampage, and no government official would do that under such circumstances. "I'm trying to help you, you know!" and "How dare you!"; stuff like that. Wouldn't let me get a word in edgewise at that point. Finally he said that any grace on his part was used up and I was now officially toast. Then I said, "You're behaving like a fraud. We're done." And with that, I ended the call.

And he never did ask for "Michael Frankhauser's" ID number as I was told he would. These guys run a pretty sloppy operation if you play along long enough and pay attention. But if you're going to dance with the Devil - I do not recommend it - be sure that any information you do give them is generalized enough to be of no real use, because once they start asking for specifics like account numbers, needless to say it's time to exit. My only regret is that I pulled the plug on this bloated song-and-dance too soon to see how they intended to get money out of me, which supposedly was the whole idea in the first place. Instead, it was a lot of time and effort on their part, and all for zero return. If their strategy is that top-heavy, they should rethink their business model. It's strictly Laurel and Hardy. BUT: It might still work, because fear of authority is a powerful reflex.

Anyway, this is just to remind folks in the US not to fall for this stuff out of Maryland. It can be compelling, because it's a scary narrative that can hook you if you let your fear run things. I still haven't had anyone knocking on my door as promised.

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 Post subject: Re: New Phone Scam (US)
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:53 pm 
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The latest rounds of scams are called "one ring scams" that just ring once in an effort to get you to call back. They end up racking up charges as they transfer what looks like a local call into an international one. I'm not explaining it well, but in the US the FCC actually has a page dedicated to it.

There are layers of scams that go beyond tricking you to give them information to actually hacking your cell phone. So the latest advice I've gotten is just don't answer it if you don't recognize a number or are not expecting a call. My current method: I never answer the phone unless it's a close friend or family member. I assume that anyone that really needs to talk to me will leave a message. Then I call them back ASAP.

This, of course, wouldn't work for anyone who was trying to run a business, but for personal calls it works really well.


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 Post subject: Re: New Phone Scam (US)
PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:15 pm 
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busterbill wrote:
So the latest advice I've gotten is just don't answer it if you don't recognize a number or are not expecting a call. My current method: I never answer the phone unless it's a close friend or family member. I assume that anyone that really needs to talk to me will leave a message. Then I call them back ASAP.

That's advice I should follow.

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 Post subject: Re: New Phone Scam (US)
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:00 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
There are voice messages being sent from Maryland claiming the Feds are looking at you for Social Security fraud.

I've had that call myself here in CT. I didn't play along recently. I use to love to follow the talk until the vitals were asked, SSN, credit card, etc., that would end game for me. I also use to tell the caller to call my office in the morning and then I would provide the local PD number. I've had all kinds of scams thru the telephone and on the computer saying my Windows system has been breached, or my Verizon account has issues. The most recent issue was my Facebook page was hacked, but, has been remedied.

Scams are everywhere so be aware of everything.


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 Post subject: Re: New Phone Scam (US)
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 12:28 pm 
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ytliek wrote:
I also use to tell the caller to call my office in the morning and then I would provide the local PD number.

That's a good one. :thumbsup:

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 Post subject: Re: New Phone Scam (US)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:26 am 
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I got one recently from a cell phone, someone claiming that the class-action lawsuit I was part of had been settled in my favor. She left a number in, I think, Texas. Either there are an awful lot of class-action lawsuits happening, or their rate of getting people who are part of one is very low. I'm not part of one.

If they don't say "this call is for" you or someone in your household, it's almost certainly a scam. Nobody's going to call you and say there's a warrant out for your arrest, or a large settlement in your favor, and not say who it's for.

We just got a new set of phones. This one allows you to set it to only ring for numbers that are stored in the system. It's amazing how little the phone rings now.

You might also look into NoMoRobo, which screens out most robocalls.

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 Post subject: Re: New Phone Scam (US)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:54 am 
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A friend of mine recently got a call for John Joe Smith. He said, without thinking, "No this is John Henry Smith." He as the call went on he determined this was a scam call and hung up. But he had just given more of his personal info. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent.)


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 Post subject: Re: New Phone Scam (US)
PostPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2019 12:01 pm 
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chas wrote:
We just got a new set of phones. This one allows you to set it to only ring for numbers that are stored in the system. It's amazing how little the phone rings now.

You might also look into NoMoRobo, which screens out most robocalls.

Attractive options, and I was unaware of them. Thanks.

I seem to be lucky so far, because I actually get few robocalls at all for some reason, but they're still no less a pain. Most of the time they're about resort discounts or credit card upgrades, and for a while a spate of them were in what I think is Vietnamese. I have no earthly clue how those would have come my direction.

Here's a Washington Post article on the scam I mentioned, found today on MSN:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/th ... ar-AAFHbH9

busterbill wrote:
A friend of mine recently got a call for John Joe Smith. He said, without thinking, "No this is John Henry Smith." He as the call went on he determined this was a scam call and hung up. But he had just given more of his personal info. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

I called my bank afterward, because I couldn't be sure that whatever info I had given out might be more relevant than I realized. The lady on the other end knew right away which scam I was talking about, and she stressed that it was foremost a phishing scam, however else it played out in the end. So even things like a name correction or a birth date are grist for the mill. She was very helpful and flagged my account for increased scrutiny.

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