Monday, 25 June 2018 19:47

Mobile phone financial scam calls on the increase: anecdotal evidence

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Recently I've been getting calls from an American sounding guy called John Mitchell, offering some kind of financial advice, in what is an obvious recorded message, all from different Australian mobile phone numbers.

Have you been noticing an increase in spam phone calls? Today I received two spams calls – one from the aforementioned American financial adviser, and another from a "No ID" number, with a foreign call centre person trying desperately to keep me on the call despite my protests.

She wanted to know if I was the owner of my mobile phone number, but I simply responded that whatever it was she was selling, I didn't want it, and could she please remove my number from her database.

She tried telling me she wasn't selling anything — to which I asked why she bothered calling — and asked if I knew what she was calling about.

I said no, I didn't, and I didn't want to talk to her, and could she please remove my number from her database, at which point she simply hung up. I've had similar calls over the past few months, too, and they all get the same message from me. 

I've also been getting calls from an American sounding guy, called John or Jim Mitchell, or what sounds like that name, and I've received this call three times now from three different unknown but visible mobile numbers.

The first time I listened to part of the message, it sounded like a genuine call, but within seconds I could tell it was a a recorded message.

Seeing as I hadn't asked for any financial advice, and didn't appreciate being cold called by a robot, I simply hung up and blocked the number.

Three calls later from different numbers, all of which have now been blocked, I will have my phone at the ready next time so I can record this monstrosity of a message to publish it to YouTube, so everyone can hear it, but frankly, these messages are plain spam, and are probably some kind of scam.

I've also received several calls from a Mandarin Chinese speaker, which I've since discovered online are scams targeting Chinese citizens, who are being told there is some kind of problem with their passport or visa.

These calls have reportedly been responsible for Chinese people losing thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, thinking they are genuine calls from the Chinese Government or Consulate, and thinking they are in trouble.

It's been said online that Chinese people are more respectful of government, so they tend to take these calls more seriously, but no doubt the word has spread that these messages are scams, plain and simple.

Even Radio 2GB host Ben Fordham of the Drive program mentioned receiving one of these calls very recently, and he simply hung up on it because he had no idea what the message was saying.

The simple reality with most of these calls is that you don't want whatever these people are selling, and you shouldn't say yes, or no, or anything at all, except to hang up on these people.

Perhaps the call centre people don't know they are involved in scams, but who knows, perhaps they make a commission on each successful scam unleashed on an unsuspecting person.

Unfortunately, your list of blocked numbers is only going to grow with these relentless scammers trying to separate you from your money, but seeing as scammers are migrating from calling landline numbers to calling mobiles, you need to be vigilant.

After all, many people have given up on their landlines, primarily because they're just a conduit for scam calls, often at the most inappropriate times, and people use mobiles more than ever.

So, if you get a call you feel in any way suspicious about, just hang up, and if you feel the need, block the number.

As for you, scammers, stuff off. Try earning a real living, you'll sleep better at night, have better karma, and won't have to answer to your God or gods for being a horrible person while you were alive - if you believe in such things.

Unfortunately, there is no honour among thieves, they're thieves and scammers to begin with, so the best thing you can do is to just hang up, and before doing that, asking them to remove your number from their database.

I suppose you could put your number on the Do Not Call register, too, but if the bad guys have no honour, why would they bother honouring the register?

Have you been targeted by similar scams? Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below.

Here's the ACCC's Investment Scams "Scamwatch" page, which shows nearly A$6 million lost, with 329 reports, across phone calls, emails, social network, text messages are more.

If it sounds to good to be true, or if you're in the slightest bit suspicious, caveat emptor!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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