Scammer accidentally reveals how much he or she is ripping off
DRAPER, Utah (KUTV) - When the scammers call, Jarom Call gets excited. Each call or email is another chance to get a scammer on the line and basically mess with them by pretending he’s falling for the scam.
"Something I enjoy doing is wasting these guys' time," he said.
Call takes his hobby seriously. He even built an entire computer dedicated to wasting the time of scammers who call with the tech support scam. That’s the scam where they lie, saying they are from Microsoft and tricking folks into giving the scammer remote access to their computer.
But a few months ago, a scammer messed up and accidentally gave Call access to the scammer’s payment processor. Call was able to see the names, banks and amounts being charged of everyone who Call suspected was being scammed.
"[It was] hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said.
Call says that in the time since the scammer's account was started in October, more than $300,000 has been processed. He estimates that about two-thirds of that money makes it into the scammer’s pocket.
These criminals are making off with truckloads of money. According to the FBI, Utahns lost $10 million in 2017 to scammers. Nationally, a whopping $1.4 billion was sent away.
FBI Special Agent Jeffery Collins says the numbers are likely higher. Those figures are merely what people took the time to report to the FBI.
"The numbers are staggering," he said.
Collins says that, while the idea of messing with the crooks is admittedly amusing, the FBI doesn’t recommend it.
"I could see why it'd be very tempting for people," he says, but “you should probably just leave it alone."
Collins says these crooks probably have your name, number and address, if not more. By "poking the bear," they may choose to harass you even more.
Collins’ advice if you get a call from a scammer is to hang up the phone.
“Usually if you do that, the person will leave you alone," he said.c
As for Call, he opted not to leave it alone. Instead, with the routing numbers and personal information, Call has been calling banks and letting them know their customers are likely being ripped off - hopefully shutting down some of the money wires before the funds are gone.
He says he’s not going to stop because, for every minute a scammer is on the phone with him, it's a minute they aren't ripping off somebody else.
"If there were enough people that are scam baiting, just wasting these guys' time, suddenly it doesn't work for them because all of their calls are to people who are just going to mess with them," he said.
Get Gephardt also reached out to the company that is hosting the scammers' transactions. Its representatives told us "the merchant is no longer a merchant on our merchant platform."