Scam revenge tactics could place you in danger: Internet Scambusters #654
It's a natural reaction to seek revenge against a would-be scammer -- or at least to let him know you're on to him.
But your reaction could backfire -- badly -- as some victims have learned to their cost.
We explain why, in this week's issue, and sound a warning about bogus parcel delivery calls.
Let's get started...
Why You Shouldn't Seek Revenge Against Scammers
If you've ever been on the receiving end of a scam attempt, you'll understand why some potential victims have the urge to exact revenge on the crooks.
In fact, some people make a game of getting even with or even getting ahead of the scammers by carrying out what's known as "scambaiting."
But we want to warn you against getting involved with any form of revenge or trickery -- because it could backfire on you with disastrous results.
In a recent, widely reported incident, for example, a woman looking for a rental apartment on a real estate website crossed swords with a scammer and came off the loser.
She'd responded to a fake ad. When she realized it was a scam, she thought she'd let the crook know what she thought of him.
But to her dismay, the scammer, who now had her cell phone number, produced scores more fake ads and inserted the woman's number as the contact point.
She was then bombarded with calls for days until she could get her number removed from the website.
Nearer to "home," a member of the Scambusters team found himself on the receiving end of a scammer's vindictiveness.
In this case, he received one of those bogus Microsoft tech calls in which the scammer pretends to be from the software giant and requests access to the victim's computer so he can fix a supposed problem - a subterfuge for stealing information from victims' PCs.
Instead of just hanging up, which is what we advise our subscribers to do, he gave the caller a piece of his mind, not mincing his words.
The result? He was bombarded with a continuous stream of robocalls that ran through the night. Eventually, he had to disconnect his phone during the night until the assault stopped after about a week.
In both these cases, the scammers' revenge was nothing worse than a few days of hassle.
But the important point to remember in these and similar circumstances are that the scammers are criminals -- and they have your contact information. Some of them are involved in terrorist activities.
It's not even difficult for them to build up a more detailed picture of you just starting from a phone number.
And there have certainly been incidents where scam victims have been lured into situations where they've been physically attacked.
These risks also apply to scambaiting activities.
In these cases, potential victims try to turn the tables on scammers by stringing them along, pretending to have been hooked.
In extreme cases, they even manage to scam the scammer, getting them to hand over money.
Scambaiters regard their activities as "sport" and there are many websites and Internet forums that feature their games and tricks.
But in many cases, these individuals are computer and Internet experts who know how to disguise their identity and cover their tracks.
As one website devoted to the pursuit declares: "Scambaiting is fun and rewarding, but warning: do not try it yourself until and unless you know what you're doing!
"Scambaiters take numerous precautions in order to be certain that what they're doing is both safe and legal. If you don't know what you're doing, scambaiting can be dangerous and unethical."
One of the biggest risks is the assumption that the scammer is based in another country.
Often their accents or the poor grammar in emails suggest the scammer is abroad -- especially in the case of so-called Nigerian scams that promise a fortune in return for upfront payments.
But that isn't always the case. Some of them are based in the United States and Canada.
Nor is it safe to assume that a crook perpetrating the so-called grandparent or distressed friend/relative scam doesn't know exactly who you are before you sound off to them.
And we know that scammers are not afraid to threaten violence to people who refuse to go along with their con tricks.
One "baiter" writes on another site: "I have been corresponding with a scammer for over a month now. I am a cop and while I know I am a professional, things have come to a dangerous level.
"Threats are being made etc. and this guy knew from day one that I was a cop. So please, please do not bait or seek revenge."
So what should you do when you know you're on the receiving end of an attempted scam?
Follow these simple rules:
- If it's an email, just delete it.
- If it's a phone call, just hang up. Don't speak and don't argue. If the calls persist, ask your phone company for help or screen all calls via your phone's voicemail feature before answering.
- If you receive a threat, tell the police.
Above all, don't play with fire by trying to mess with these crooks.
They say revenge is sweet -- but it really isn't, especially when it backfires!
Alert of the Week
Did UPS or one of the other delivery companies call you to check when you'll be at home to receive a package?
Don't tell them -- because that's not the way these firms operate, so it's almost certainly a crook trying to find out when they can burglarize your home.
Ask the caller for their name and phone number. They'll probably hang up, but if they do give you a number, don't call that either. Instead, look the delivery company up in the phone book and call them yourself.
Time to conclude for today -- have a great week!