A YouTuber famous for pulling pranks on thieves has turned his attention to phone scammers, with hilarious results.
We’ve been following YouTuber Mark Rober for some time now. He’s an exceptionally innovative engineer who is perhaps most famous for his prank where he leaves booby-trapped parcels on doorsteps, waiting for opportunist thieves (or porch pirates, as he calls them) to get their grubby hands on them. Only there are no expensive goodies in these parcels. These parcels contain Rober’s infamous glitter fart spray bombs. Which are pretty much exactly what you’d expect, only better.
When the crooks open the parcel, they’re in for a nasty, and bad smelling, surprise. And if you wish you could see that hilarious moment when the crook opens the parcel just to realise they’ve been pranked, well you can, because Rober puts cameras in the parcel that instantly transmit what they’re recording straight back to him. And he uploads it for the world to watch.
So we were particularly excited when Rober turned his attention to phone scammers. Working with two other scambaiters – Jim Browning (who we previously discussed when he managed to hack into the CCTV of a scam call centre in India) and Scammer Payback – Rober manages to deploy one of his glitter bombs to a phone scammer.
The network of scammers that Rober targeted were deploying a common phone scam where the crooks trick a victim into believing they’ve been accidentally charged by a well-known company, only to then trick the victim into believing they gave themselves a much larger refund than they were due.
This is a brief overview of how the scam works –
1. The scammer, while pretending to be from a reputable company like Amazon, contacts the victim and claims they’ve been charged hundreds of dollars. The scammer claims if this was a mistake to call a phone number or press a number on their keypad. This initial call is usually (but not always) a pre-recorded message.
2. The victim calls up, and reaches a scammer. The scammer apologies for the mistake and claims in order to refund the victim, the victim must open their computer and install some software.
3. That software is remote desktop software, which gives the crook access to the victim’s computer. The scammer tells the victim to follow some instructions to get their refund. However, thanks to some computer trickery made possible by the remote desktop software, the scammer manages to convince the victim that they rewarded themselves with a significantly larger refund than they were due.
4. The scammer, using emotional exploitation, then pleads with the victim to send the excess money back, typically in cash, and through a delivery company like FedEx.
5. But of course this was just trickery. The victim was never charged any money, and they’ve never been refunded any money. So any cash the victim sends to a scammer through a courier is money the victim loses and the scammer gains.
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As Rober finds out, these scammers operate a complex network that involves money mules, supervisors, AirBnbs and hotels, all so they can avoid detection from the authorities.
But Rober, determined (and after a few near misses as detailed in his video) managed to finally get revenge on at least a few of these scammers.
Here’s his video.
And remember, never feel pressured into sending money over the Internet or through a courier, even if the person on the other end of the phone claims to be from a reputable company. If someone asks you to lie to your bank, or any other company or keep something a secret from your family, then there’s a high chance you’re being scammed.
For more tips on avoiding phone scams, see our tips here.