There are more and more allegations of fraud. Bloggers expose telephone scammers, but the police do not always respond to them. To warn others and to have fun. Bloggers call cybercriminals, hack into their computers. And declassify names. How they do it and why they are not trusted – in the retelling of The Guardian.
35-year-old voice actress Rosie Okumura has been running a home call center for two years. True, she does not call at all to ordinary people, but to those whose calls annoy most of them. Telephone scammers who pretend to be technical support employees, tax inspectors, and even victims.
During the call, Okumura pretends to be either an older woman. Or a six-year-old girl, or a Siri voice assistant – anyone, to confuse the attackers. She calls Okumura three or four days a week. And once has convinced the deceitful technician that she was Britney Spears. This activity is calls scam baiting on the Internet.
Okumura writes The Guardian
Okumura writes The Guardian, “breeds” scammers by their methods. And this tactic is not new: scambaiting on the Internet has been practiced for 20 years. But in 2021, a new generation of “avengers” appeared. On the TikTok and YouTube platforms, where Okumura has 1.5 million subscribers each.
UK Health Minister James Bethell
In April 2021, UK Health Minister James Bethell announced that fraudulent calls and messages had skyrocketed. According to the British agency Ofcom, cybercriminals are increasingly faking official bank phone numbers to defraud customers.
“Avengers” like Okumura seem like superheroes against their background. But whether they manage to convince the scammers and whether their activities are so helpful is unknown, the newspaper writes.
Okumura as Batman decided to “do justice” after her mother became a victim of scammers in 2019. A 60-year-old woman believed the virus scam that surfaced on the screen. The warning included the Windows logo and a number to call to remove the virus.
How Bloggers expose telephone scammers
Okumura’s mother gave the fraudster remote access to the device and all files, and paid $500 for the work. The cybercriminals did not get the money. The bank suspended the transaction. But they still received personal information. Including a social security number.
Okumura called the scammers
Upon learning of this, Okumura called the scammers. And portrayed the celebrity Kim Kardashian for almost two hours. She complained that her computer “exudes a bad vibe” and slows down. She posted the recording of the call on YouTube and has since filmed more than 200 such videos. They collect millions of views, and the blogger receives money from advertisers and sponsors.
Okumura realizes that she will not stop the telephone scammers. So her goal is to tell viewers. In advance about what tricks the attackers are using. “It will not be possible to put all the criminals in prison anyway. So it’s easier to educate the people,” she says.
Birmingham City University
And in this, the actress is right, says the publication. In October 2020. Birmingham City University declared the UK anti-fraud service ineffective. According to the Times, the police arrest suspects in only one case in 50. And the service often closes points prematurely.
He asked whether the “avengers” were helping or hindering the authorities, the British anti-fraud service did not answer. She only said that the victims should transmit information through. The “correct channels” and tell their relatives and friends about the known tricks.
Pseudonym Jim Browning
Some scammers report telephone scammers to the police — for example, the Northern Irish blogger under the pseudonym Jim Browning. He has been filming exposés for seven years. Hacking into the computers of cybercriminals, and managed to gain almost 3.5 million subscribers. He transfers the received data to the police, banks, and Internet providers. For example, in 2021, he helped expose an Indian call center and arrest its owner.
American Association of Retired Persons
Browning would not become a blogger: he uploaded videos to YouTube to send links to them to the authorities. However, at the same time, he attracted spectators, mostly young ones. “Young people are great. But videos would be more beneficial for the elderly. And there are only 10% of them among viewers,” he says. Therefore, Browning also works with the American Association of Retired Persons and publishes fraud notes in its journal.
Despite the serious approach, the blogger does not forget that the videos should be entertaining. Therefore, during calls, he openly intimidates scammers by saying their real names aloud. At the same time, he does not succeed in making money on YouTube. The company regularly removes monetization from videos since its content “can upset, alienate and shock viewers.” Because of this, Browning has to continue to work in a regular job.
Why do companies, industry experts, and former scammers criticize scambaiting
YouTube isn’t the only one skeptical about scam baiting. Jack Whittaker. Associate professor of criminology at the University of Surrey, explains that all “avengers” have different goals:
- Some are looking for an audience.
- Others are unhappy with the police inaction.
- Still, others do it out of boredom.
He also does not like the mentality of many telephone scrambles. They only humiliate scammers and are guided by the “tit-for-tat” principle. They hack computers and delete personnel files. Whittaker says such methods are most often illegal, which is why not everyone trusts the “avengers.”
According to the assistant professor, scam bites have all the skills to change. The world for the better. But they have taken the wrong direction. However, the police should also think about this and figure out. How to cooperate more effectively with volunteers.
A video in which the scammer deletes the files of the Bloggers expose telephone scammers. Videos have over 14 million views.
Edward engaged in revelations
Some scam bites also agree with Whittaker — for example. A software engineer under the pseudonym Edward engaged in revelations back in the early 2000s. Together with several online friends, he offered a scammer named Omar a non-existent job. He paid for a flight of 1000 km, but upon arrival. Then he realized that he had been deceived. The scammer had no money left for the return trip. He cried and asked the scam bites to help him.
Thanks to scambaiting
At first, thanks to scam baiting, Edward felt like a part of a single team. And even earned a little, but after the incident with Omar. He realized that he had gone too far and gave up this activity. “I am still ashamed of myself. And therefore I do not reveal my name,” he admits. Tech companies should prevent fraud, he said.
However, according to The Guardian, scammers are likely not going anywhere. 23-year-old Cassandra Raposo took up the revelations at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Since then, one of her videos on TikTok has collected over 1.5 million views. In it, she introduced herself to the scammers. As Nancy Drew, gave the address of the police station, and wasted time with silly conversations.