General Question

flip86's avatar

Beware of Jamaican/Nigerian phone scammers. I just received a call from one of them. How do they get our phone numbers?

Asked by flip86 (6013 points ) June 1st, 2013

He told me he was from publishers clearing house and that he had a cashiers check for me from UPS, and then he gave me a “confirmation” number. He then told me to go to Walmart and send a money order. I stopped him there and told him I knew it was a scam. I told him I knew he was sitting in a shithole in Africa and he then called me a dirty white piece of shit.

I told him I wasn’t stupid and that I knew exactly what he was trying to do and then I hung up on him.

He called back and admitted to being in Africa and then started begging me to help him, he was fake crying, telling me he’d be my best African friend if I’d just help him leave the shit hole he lives in. I hung up on him again. He hasn’t called back

I thought he might be Nigerian but now I think the scumbag was Jamaican, because of his accent.

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16 Answers

SuperMouse's avatar

Did they know your name? I think it is wild that this type of scamming began with emails then regressed to the good old fashioned telephone!

flip86's avatar

@SuperMouse No, they didn’t know my name. He kept calling me sir until I told him I was onto him. He very quickly got mad and showed me his true colors.

SavoirFaire's avatar

If he didn’t know your name, then he probably didn’t acquire your phone number from anyone. He could just be running through every phone number and attempting to find someone gullible enough to fall for his scam.

WestRiverrat's avatar

They have computer programs that dial every available number until they hit someone that answers. I have an air horn sitting by my phone for just such occasions.

flo's avatar

@flip86 it could be that he is acting like he has an accent. He could very well be a WASP your neighbor maybe. What about his phone number? Did you ask him to if you could call him back? Is his ethnicity that significant if it is to alert us all about scammers?

gailcalled's avatar

I never (ever) pick u a ringing phone unless I either recognize the name or number on the menu display.

On the rare occasion that I miss a legitimate call, I can simply retrieve the message from my voicemail and call back.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@gailcalled but if you don’t pick up on the telemarketers, you cannot do things like this.

gailcalled's avatar

@WestRiverrat : More’s the pity. Funny for a bit, but I bet that it was scripted by both parties.

flo's avatar

That link seems like an acting job, it sounds way too scripted. The “scammer” stayed on too long. Usually as soon as they know you’re on to them they hang up.

jerv's avatar

“How do they get our phone numbers?”

One possibility is a wardialer, though similar feats can be done manually.

If you have an area codes and local exchange, odds are that any of the 10,000 possible numbers will reach somebody. And it’s not like those are secret information; you don’t need a Burn before reading then shoot yourself” clearance from the NSA’s secret masters to know that VT phone numbers start with 802.

That doesn’t even count the old “open a phonebook and point to a name at random” method.

ragingloli's avatar

@WestRiverrat
Sure, but for that you have to have a quick wit, like a stand-up comedian responding effectively and funnily to hecklers.

flo's avatar

@jerv show how to prevent or reduce the number of these scams. Help the potential victims of scammers.

jerv's avatar

@flo The only way around them calling you in the first place is to not have a phone number at all. If it’s possible for a certain set of numbers entered into a phone to contact you, there remains the possibility that that set of numbers will be dialed by a scammer.

In other words, there is no practical way to prevent them from calling, and even as unlisted number (to foil the “point at a phonebook” crowd) won’t reduce the odds much; you will get those calls.

The key here is to remain informed. This particular sort of scam has been around long enough that there is no valid reason that any adult should not be at least vaguely aware of the existence and general details of this scam. It’s not like some recent thing that hasn’t had time for word to get around. I knew about this one back in the ‘90s!

Now, if you are the type of person to send money to absolute strangers that initiate contact with you (as opposed to you contacting them) then odds are that you should not be living on your own in the first place; you are either a minor or have lost enough mental capacity from medical reasons that you should not be handling your own finances.

In other words, @flo, these scams would not be so widespread if there were not so many people totally lacking in common sense.

Common sense says that if anyone other than a reputable charity cold-calls you asking for money, it’s probably not on-the-level and skepticism is warranted.

Common sense says that giving your SSN or banking/credit card information to such a cold-caller is, at best, stupid.

Common sense says that ignorance is not always bliss, what you don’t know can hurt you, and bad things can happen when you do something stupid.

Sadly, common sense isn’t common, as evidenced by the fact that these scams still work.

flo's avatar

@jerv How about not giving the instructions on how to scam? Isn’t that common sense too?

jerv's avatar

@flo I am in no mood to be bullied by you, especially not in a General thread. Common sense also says not to feed the trolls, and I am ignoring common sense by even responding to you.
As for not giving out information on how to scam, that’s like not sharing the recipe for ice cubes. I gave nothing away here that isn’t well-known to anybody who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last 20 years. Things parents and PSAs teach their kids about.

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