Shutting down the cold-call scammers won't be an easy task
The voice on the line is distant and echoing, the words read awkwardly from a script: "Hello, I'm calling from Microsoft and there is a problem with your computer."
So the scam begins. We've been following these cold-call scammers for years and their persistence and ingenuity continues to surprise.
Not content with conning people into handing over money to solve non-existent problems, they have even resorted to vulgar verbal assaults when people refuse to cooperate. In one case they claimed to be working for the Indian government to repay money lost to scammers.
There are hundreds of websites, all promising the same dubious looking services, all of them trying to scam innocent people. For years they have been able to operate unchecked and without consequences for their actions.
One company bought to our attention operates out of India, but lists UK, Australian and American phone numbers. Its US headquarters can be traced to a barn in the middle of a field in Indiana.
Other companies list offices in Cardiff, Birmingham and Oxford. They display UK phone numbers, but few of them work for very long.
We tracked down the number of a Kolkata based company running a number of cold-call scam websites. We call it up; a few seconds pass and a man picks up the phone. After a minute or two of confused conversation he says we need to call their UK office. The number he gives for the UK is already dead and no longer used.
These cold-call scammers barely seem to exist online - phone numbers come and go, websites appear and disappear and company names change constantly.
While the Federal Trade Commission's statement of intent is encouraging, stopping the scammers altogether won't be an easy task.
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