Mon, Oct 05, 2020 9:25 pm
Your electricity will be cut off in 30 minutes
At 11:55 AM EDT this morning, my wife received a recorded call stating our
electricity would be cut off by Delmarva Power, our electric utility, in
thirty minutes. She called for me to pick up the phone, but by the time I got
to a phone in another room, the call was disconnected. She said the message
had instructed her to hit "1" to speak to someone. The call sounded like a
scam to me, since I didn't know of any issue with our electicity payments and
also because I would have expected a letter well before a cutoff date and
more than 30 minutes to pay any past due payment if someone called. It seemed
to me an obvious attempt to panic a called party into providing a credit card
to a scammer engaged in fraud, but I checked our bank account anyway and saw
the last payment due had been deducted from our checking account about two
weeks before the call and when I logged into Delmarva's website to check the
status of our account, I saw the last payment credited and a balance of zero
Using *69, I was able to determine the listed calling number was
1-443-739-1747, but a search online for accounts of others receiving a call
from a scammer using that number did not reveal other such activity. I called
the number back to see how the scammer operated or to see if it might be
a spoofed number, but just got a recorded message that the called party
was not available, so I should leave a message. It sounded like a generic
voicemail message. So, perhaps, the scammer spoofed the calling number
as they often do to make it difficult to track down their identity.
Fri, Jun 05, 2020 5:22 pm
Call from 616-465-0071 purporting to be from Amazon
My wife received a call today that was a recorded message purportedly about
a suspicous Amazon charge for an
She asked me to pick up the phone, but by the time I got to the phone the
call was disconnected. I used *69 to determine the calling number was
1-616-465-0071, though of course the number may have been spoofed. I
searched online and didn't find anyone else reporting a fraudulent call
from that number purporting to be from Amazon. I checked our Amazon
account just to be certain there was no recent charge for something
neither of us ordered, but I didn't see anything ordered after a recent purchase
of ink for my wife's printer. I tried calling the number using *69 just to see
whether I could get anyone at the other end or any identifying voice
message, but only got the message "I'm sorry we can not connect your
call at this time." Subsequent attempts I made to call the number resulted
in a busy signal. At this point, I'm presuming the call was an attempt
by a scammer to obtain information about our Amazon account or a credit
card number associated with the account.
Wed, Jul 24, 2019 10:26 pm
Publishers Clearinghouse Scammer
On Tuesday, July 23, 2019, I received a call from someone pretending to
be a representative of Publishers Clearing House (PCH) who identified
himself as Tony WIsh and told me I had won 5 1/2 million dollars, a
Mercedes Benz, and free petrol for a year for the vehicle - obviously
he was not someone who grew up in the U.S. to use "petrol" rather than
"gas." He asked me what color car I wanted and whether I wanted the
money all at once or in monthly payments and then requested personal
information from me to ostensibly fill out a tax form. I asked him for a
call back number as an assurance that he wasn't a scammer and he gave me
the number 805-399-4139. I asked him where he was located and he told me
was at the PCH headquarters in Washington, D.C., though when I immediately
looked up the number, I saw it was a California number. When I pointed
that out to him, he said that all PCH representatives get 8 numbers,
claiming it was so the people they contacted would not have long distance
charges, though the number he gave was not a local one for me. When I
asked several times what street the headquarters was on in Washington,
D.C., he repeated "you are breaking up." I hung up at that point.
For anyone who might receive such a call and think it could be legitimate,
Publishers Clearing House states on their
Fraud Protection page
that "Our major winners are notified by mail or in person (at our option) and
we never phone ahead to disclose that someone has won a major prize."
I filed a complaint at the
Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) Consumer Complaints website as I usually do when I get calls from such
scammers intent on defrauding those they call. I also filed a complaint at the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Complaint Assistant site at where you can select the "Rip-offs and
Impostor Scams" option.
Mon, Jul 15, 2019 10:53 pm
Scammer calling from 210-361-8678
I received a call from 210-361-8678 on my cellphone today. The call was
obviously from a scammer as the message included some statement about my
social security number (SSN) and legal action that would be taken against me
if I didn't call the number from which I was called - I didn't note the
exact message, but I found someone at the
at Phone: 210-361-8678
reporting a message that seemed similar if not the same as what I had
heard. The other person reported he or she received the message below on
July 16, 2018:
Security number is used for some fraudulent activities and due to
that we have in order to suspend your social security number right
away from the Law and enforcement Department and also to freeze
your bank accounts before we go ahead and do that. If you need any
further information about it kindly call back at 210-361-8678. Once
again that's 210-361-8678. Thank you.
There were numerous other people reporting similar calls where someone
was referencing a problem with the person's SSN and advising the person
to call 210-361-8678. The call is obviously an attempt to defraud those
called. I went to the
FCC Consumer Complaint webpage and filed a complaint.
I received an email response to the form I submitted with a ticket number.
The email response from the FCC stated "The FCC is committed to doing what
we can to protect you from these unwelcome interruptions to your day.
Unwanted calls, including illegal and spoofed robocalls, are the largest
category of complaints the FCC receives." It is troubling, though, that
some fraudster has been engaged in this activity using the 210-361-8678
number for a year with no action taken against him. The first report I
saw on the Whycall.me site was
on July 16, 2018, but I saw others reporting the same issue on that webpage
from that date through July 15, 2019. The
Whycall.me site allows one to search
for reports filed by other people on calls from telemarkers and
scammers. The site describes itself thusly:
Whycall.me is a consumer complaints board used to report telemarketers,
robocallers, scammers, and debt collectors that violate the law.
We receive more than 6,000 complaints each month, which helps
potential victims identify and avoid answering calls from problematic
phone numbers. Our global phone book of numbers is powered by
crowdsourcing and online data sources.
The site's homepage advises users of the site to also report the calls
to relevant government agencies, which it lists.
For the number that called me, the site listed the following information:
San Benito, Texas
Its exchange 361 is managed by SOUTHWESTERN BELL - TX
The number is currently on switch number SNBNTXSBDS0 (switch is a
technical specification, provided here for phone hobbyists)
Around 20% of people reported it as "Recorded Message"
You are the 2nd person to search for it here.
There has been a total of 30 comments left about the number.
Latest people reported the number as that of "SCAM, "Social Security'"
I registed an account at the site and posted a note about the call
I received today.
Sat, Jun 16, 2018 2:59 pm
Scam call from 1-800-222-2222
I received a call to my cellphone at noon Eastern time in the U.S. on Saturday
June 16, 2018 with the calling number showing as (800) 222-2222.
When I answered the call I heard a message stating the call was an
automated call that would provide a chance to earn a $50 credit on
your next bill. I was then prompted to hit "1" to continue. I did
and heard the messaage "Please enter your Verizon billing password"
at which point I ended the call. After I ended the call, I called
the number back and heard the message "Welcome to America's hottest
talk line. Guys, ladies are waiting to talk to you." I have Verizon
as my provider for cellphone service. If a Verizon user goes to the
webste, he or she can log into his or her account by providing
either a mobile number or User ID with the password for his or her
account. So anyone falling for the fraudulent call will, by providing
the password, since the scammer will know the called number, provide
the credentials the fraduster will need to use the person's Verizon
account. When I looked up the number online, I found others reporting
fraudulent activity from the calling number. E.g., 800-222-2222 |
Suspected Scam Call | Whitepages
. At that page, someone posted
on June 14, 2018 3:10:48 PM that he or she received a "Verizon
Wireless scam" call from that number. I logged into my account from
a computer and opened a chat session with a Verizon representative to
report the fraudster. She told me she was going to report it.
I also submitted the number at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Stop Unwanted Calls and Texts
webpage through the "file a complaint
with the FCC" link on that page.
Wed, Feb 22, 2017 11:10 pm
PhishMe Phishing Email
I received an email message today stating that all users of a system I use
for work must update their security questions on a bi-yearly basis and that
my account would be locked out in twenty four hours if my security questions
were not updated within that time. Within the message was the
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
for the relevant website.
The message seemed suspicous, since I would expect to have received
prior notices before one informing me I had only 24 hours left to
update the questions and also I've not encountered instances of
such sites requring security questions to be updated on a periodic
basis, though it is common to require passwords to be updated
When I hovered my mouse pointer over the link in the message, I found
that the first part of the name in the
fully qualified domain name (FQDN) looked like something
I would expect in a site name for my employer, but the ending of the
domain name was securefileshares.com, which would not be a site I would go
to to modify security questions for a work-related system. On my laptop,
I use Outlook 2016 as my email;
to view the email
header for a message in Outlook 2016, you can take these steps, but most
email clients provide a mechanism to view a message's header, which will show
the originating system and other email servers a message has passed through.
Viewing the header information, I saw the following lines:
Received-SPF: Temperror (SPF Temporary Error: DNS 'NoneType' object has no attri
bute 'header') identity=mailfrom; client-ip=22.214.171.124; helo=mail.nova.phishme.
com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Received: from mail.nova.phishme.com (mail.nova.phishme.com [126.96.36.199]) by
X-PhishMeTracking: TjaVg7y+fe0Q/<text snipped>
The header lines showed it was a training exercise, since
PhishMe is a company
that helps organizations train their employees to avoid
But, if you have a question about whether a message you have received
is legitimate or is a spoofed message that appears to come from a legitimate
sender, such as your employer, bank, or some source you would trust,
it is best to type in a link rather than click on one within an email, unless
you observe the actual link very closely. It can also help to identify
a message sent by someone spoofing a legitimate sender by examining message
headers. It is trivially easy for a spammer, malware purveyor, or other
malefactor to spoof a "From" address, so you should never assume that a
"From" address is a reliable means of identifying a message's actual sender.
Thu, Oct 06, 2016 9:46 pm
Indian scammers posing as U.S. IRS employees busted
I heard some good news on the radio while driving home from the office this
afternoon. Indian law enforcement officers arrested 70 people working in
call centers on the outskirts of Mumbai
who were involved in a phone scam operation where they
would call U.S. citizens and leave voice mail messages where they claimed to be
U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
payments for taxes those called supposedly owed with the threat of arrest
if the callee doesn't pay. Assistant police commissioner Bharat Shelke
stated that "Fearing arrest, some used to call back, and employees
at the call center then demanded a few thousand dollars to settle the
case." Shelke also stated that an estimated $36.5 million was extorted
from Americans duped into paying the scammers. Unfortunately, the police
haven't yet caught the ringleaders of the operation.
Indian authorities stated that the callers were trained to disguise their
Indian accents, so that they would sound more like native-born Americans.
Employees of the scammers were given a six-page script with tips on how to
allay potential victims suspicions. For their jobs as criminals, callers
were paid between 10,000 rupees and 70,000 rupees every month, which is
equivalent to between $150 and $1,050 U.S. dollars, police said. Shelke
stated "Employees were aware of the fraud, but since they were getting
a good salary, they remained silent."
I received a call from a
scammer pretending to be an IRS employee in February of this year. In that
instance, the person I spoke to had an obvious Indian accent. When I told
him I knew he was a fraudster, he responded with a reference to a sexual act
and hung up. Subsequently, my wife has received many similar bogus IRS calls.
In the case where I spoke to the caller in February, the scam operation was
spoofing the calling phone number.
Such scammers don't target just Americans. Tax agencies in Canada and
Australia have all issued warnings over such scam callers. Last year,
Sahil Patel, a scammer residing in
Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 14 1/2 years in prison for his role in
a similar scam where callers posed as law enforcement officers or tax agents.
He was also ordered to forfeit one million dollars. The call centers
Patel worked with used software that allowed them to spoof calling numbers so
that those called would see a phone number that appeared to be associated with
the agency with which the callers claimed to be associated.
At a Senate hearing in 2015 prior to Patel's conviction, a
U.S. Department of the Treasury official estimated that
such scams generated between 9,000 and 12,000 complaints a week and had gained
scammers more than $15.5 million from 3,000 victims.
So kudos to Indian law enforcement officers for the recent operation; I hope they catch the kingpin(s) for whom those arrested worked.
Indian police seek kingpins in tax scam aimed at Americans
By Rajendra Jadhav and Rahul Bhatia | Mumbai
Date: October 6, 2016
Pennsylvania man gets 14-1/2 years in prison for India-based phone scam
By Joseph Ax | New
Date: July 8, 2015
Sat, Jul 16, 2016 10:16 pm
Windows Technical Department Scam
My wife received a call at 1:02 PM Eastern Time today from someone with an
Indian accent claiming he was from the "Windows Technical Department" calling
because they noticed that our "computer is infected with some harmful viruses."
The call was obviously a scam, but I picked up the phone and played along for
several minutes to see what the person would try to do. He had
me open the Windows Event Viewer
and suggested that the entries I saw in
the Application log indicated the system was infected with viruses. There
will normally be a plethora of entries in the log associated with the normal
functioning of a Microsoft Windows system, but I can undestand
how such con artists might be able to scare someone who has never
looked at such log entries before into thinking they were evidence of
something being terribly wrong with his/her system. When I asked him
what percentage of people he called fell for the scam, he insisted it
wasn't a scam. When I asked him if he was calling from outside of the
U.S. and so felt immune from prosecution in the U.S., he hung up. When
I used *69 to get the calling number I found it was 315-825-8947.
When I tried calling the number, I heard a recorded message stating
"The person you are trying to reach is not accepting calls at this time.
Please try your call again later."
When I then searched online for that number, I found others reporting
receiving similar scam calls from that number, e.g., at the 800Notes page at
I found reports such as "They called me 4 times. I finally picked up
on the last time and it was a woman with an Indian accent claiming to
be from Windows Tech Support and I immediately hung up. This is a scam."
Fifty minutes later, my wife received a similar call again at 1:52 PM
from someone with an Indian accent. She informed the caller that she knew
it was a scam and asked to be removed from the calling list. I used
*69 again and this time I was informed that the caling number was
315-639-8222. I found that number also listed at the 800Notes site at
When I tried calling that number I heard a message that "The number you
have reached has been disconnected or is no longer in service."
We received two more "Windows Technical Departement" calls within a
couple of hours. We were watching a series on Netflix during that period
and I didn't try to check those two calling numbers with *69.
I think it was the second call where I again picked up the phone and talked
to the caller who again had an Indian accent - my wife told me all four
seemed to have an Indian accent. I asked where he was calling from and he
told me New York. I asked him what company he worked for; he said "Windows
Technical Department". I asked him if he knew what company produces Windows.
He didn't answer, but attempted to continue with his spiel telling me where
to click with the mouse. I tried to see if he knew anything except the spiel
he had been given, but this caller wanted to stick with the spiel telling me
where to click, though he eventually hung up when I told him to hold on for
a minute while I went to another phone, where I was going to record our
My wife gets very annoyed by such calls; she's usually the one picking
up the phone for our home phone number, which is a
service from our cable provider. I haven't received such scam calls on
my cell phone number, though I do get a fair number of unwanted telemarketing
calls on that number,
spoofed numbers. My wife said she frequently gets the Windows scam calls
when I'm not home. A few months ago,
I received a call on our
home number from another scammer pretending to be from the IRS.
Our phone numbers are on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Do Not Call
list, but, of course, scammers, and many telemarketers as well, don't bother
checking that list.
Coincidentally, today I read an article on the Ars Technica site titled
Mobile carriers aren’t doing enough to fight robocalls, senators say. I
wasn't pleased by the following paragraph in that article:
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson recently
that AT&T doesn't have the "authority" to implement new robocall blocking
technology in its mobile network, even though the Federal Communications
clearly stated last year that carriers have the "green light"
to offer robocall-blocking services to consumers.
Fri, Feb 26, 2016 10:11 pm
Scammer pretending to be calling from the IRS
This morning at 8:12 AM my time I received a call from someone speaking
with what sounded like an Indian accent who claimed to work for the
U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
asking me if I was aware
that a warrant had been issued in the state of Maryland by the IRS for my
arrest. Since I have not received any correspondence recently from
the IRS by postal mail and it seemed unlikely an IRS employee would call
me to notify me that a warrant was issued for my arrest, I was angered,
but not worried by the call. I asked the caller where he was calling from
and he said he was located in Washington D.C., which is, of coure, the location
for the IRS. I asked for the calling phone number and he told me
1-800-829-1040. I was so irked by what seemed like an obvious
scam attempt that I didn't let him go through his whole spiel
to learn the details of how the scam was conducted. Instead, I
simply told him that the call seemed like a scam and he seemed
like a fraudster. He immediately responded with profanity and
hung up; his knowledge of American profanity at least seemed good.
of Chapter 1 of Part 5 of the Internal Revenue
Manual states that it is a violation of IRS policy for an employee to
use "obscene, profane, or abusive language", so that was only another
indicator that the call was fraudulent.
After he hung up, I used *69 on my phone to see what calling number was
reported. The calling number reported was 1-800-829-4933. That number and
the one he gave are actual IRS numbers. The 1-800-829-4933 number is the
IRS main taxpayer assistance line listed at
How to Get Tax Help from the IRS and the 1-800-829-4933 one is the
one listed on that same page for taxpayers to call with small business-related
questions. However, it is common for telemarketers and scammers to spoof
the calling number. Unfortunately, it seems that is fairly easy for them
to do. E.g., often when I receive telemarketing calls to my mobile phone I
notice that the first six digits of the calling number match those of my
phone, but if I call the number back, the person who that phone number
actually belongs to will answer and knows nothing about such calls.
Telemarketers spoofing calling numbers is a common way to make it more
difficult for people to identify the actual originating phone number when
they file a complaint, but also telemarketers will spoof a calling number
to make it more likely that the callee will think that he/she is receiving
a local call and thus answer the phone. Con artists will spoof a calling
number from a legitimate business, organization, or government agency
to dupe a callee into thinking the call is legitimate.
After I hung up, I found the October 15, 2015 article on the IRS website,
IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam, which notes:
The Internal Revenue Service today warned consumers about a
sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants,
throughout the country.
Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly
through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to
cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension
of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes
hostile and insulting.
The article notes "that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax
issue is likely to occur via mail", which is what I would expect and lists
the following characteristics for the scam:
- Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use
common names and surnames to identify themselves.
- Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s
Social Security Number.
- Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it
appear that it’s the IRS calling.
- Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support
their bogus calls.
- Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to
mimic a call site.
- After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license
revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be
from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.
The article notes that you can file a complaint with the
Commission (FTC), a consumer protection agency, regarding such
You can file a complaint using the
FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Impostor Scams.” If the
complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS
Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Note: I found that I needed to select "Scams and Rip-offs" and then
"Impostor Scams", which is for "Someone posing as a well-known business,
a family/friend, or a government agency". After that I made the following
selections (it didn't sem to be as obvious as I would have expected how
one should file a complaint regarding someone pretending to represent
a U.S. federal government agency):
- How were you contacted? Phone
- Are you contacting us to complain about the company’s telemarketing
- Did the person: Pretend to be a representative or employee of a
local, state, or federal government?
You will then be taken to the "Information Collection" step where
"In just a few moments you will be able to tell your story in your own
words. But first we would like to collect some information." After I
completed the complaint submission process, I saw the following information:
Thank you for submitting your complaint to the Federal Trade
Commission. Based on the information you have given us, we believe the
following links to our consumer website may be helpful to you:
Government Imposter Scams
If you have any questions or would like us to add additional information
to your complaint, please call 877-382-4357 to speak with a counselor.
The webpages to which the FTC link pointed had a link to another IRS
article on such phone scams titled
IRS Warns of Phone Scam.
Tue, May 29, 2007 10:32 am
Commerce Bank Phishing Email
When I checked my email today, I found a
that ostensibly pointed recipients to
http://commerceconnections-session843435953.commercebank.com/ibank/cmserver/verify.cfm, but which actually pointed to a phishing webpage at
I reported the spoofed site at the
following phishing report wepbages:
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