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‘Can You Hear Me?’ Scam Has Police Warning Would-Be Victims to Hang Up Immediately

KTLA 5 News

“Can you hear me?” It is a simple question, but police say answering it could make you the victim of a scam.

Police in Virginia are now warning about the scam, which has also been recently reported in Florida, and, in 2016, in Pennsylvania.  

“Anytime you become victim to a crime, you just feel violated,” said Officer Jo Ann Hughes with the Norfolk Police Department.

Here’s how it works – police say you’ll receive a phone call from a number you do not know.

“Usually it has a familiar area code,” Hughes told KTLA sister station WTKR, making the potential victim more likely to answer the call.

Police say after you answer the phone, a person – or automated recording – on the other end of the line introduces themselves and their business.

“That kind of warms you up,” Hughes said.

After the introduction comes the question, “Can you hear me?”

“All of us, our natural response is to say, ‘Yes,’ or ‘Sure,’ or ‘Yes I can,’” said Hughes, but she says this is exactly what you do not want to do.

Police say scammers record your “yes” response. In one variation of the scam documented by the Better Business Bureau in October 2016, the criminals may pretend to be from a cruise line or home security company and will later bill you for products or services you never asked for.

If you try to deny the charges, the scammers will playback your verbal confirmation “yes” and threaten to take legal action if you don’t pay.

In another variation, scammers may use the recording to authorize charges on a stolen credit card or with a utility company by tricking an automated system, according to CBS News. The con artists may have already stolen other personal information through a data breach that would allow them to pass the security checks.

“A lot of times, victims do not want to come forward because they are embarrassed. They feel like, ‘It was my fault. I should have known better,’ and they are just embarrassed by it all together. So we do not get a whole lot of reports, unfortunately,” said Hughes.

Los Angeles Times business columnist David Lazarus told KTLA Wednesday that he got one of these calls last week.

“The call that I got, it sounded like a woman was calling. … She was bobbling her headset, and she said, ‘I’m sorry, I couldn’t get my headset on. Can you hear me?’” Lazarus said.

“What law enforcement and consumer advocates want you to know is: If it sounds like somebody is trying to get you to say ‘yes’ to something … Careful, don’t say anything,” Lazarus said.

Often the scam caller is actually a recording, he said.

Police say to avoid this scam, follow this advice.

  1. Do not answer the phone from numbers you do not recognize.
  2. Do not give out personal information.
  3. Do not confirm your number over the phone.
  4. Do not answer questions over the phone.

And finally this piece of advice: Hang up the phone and call police instead.

“We really want people to hear this,” said Hughes. “Say, ‘Look, I just heard about this scam on TV’ … and to hang up.”

‘Can You Hear Me?’ Scam Has Police Warning Would-Be Victims to Hang Up Immediately

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9 Responses to ‘Can You Hear Me?’ Scam Has Police Warning Would-Be Victims to Hang Up Immediately

  1. Darzak says:

    I ALWAYS hang up on any recorded call that I might inadvertently answer before inspecting (like if I’m waiting for a call-back and a call comes in the meantime). There is nothing any recorded voice has to say that I want to listen to. Period.

  2. koyote says:

    Can you hear me now??????

  3. # 1 NWO Hatr says:

    No phone anymore, so no problem here.

  4. BMF says:

    *** If you try to deny the charges, the scammers will playback your verbal confirmation “yes” and threaten to take legal action if you don’t pay. ***

    Pfffft. Of course I’d deny the charges. Then I’d tell them to go right ahead and take legal action, Simply recording someone saying “yes” on the phone proves nothing.

    Not that it would ever be an issue for me. I don’t even answer the phone if I don’t recognize the number. If the call is legitimate or important, whoever it is can leave a message. I listen to those right away.

  5. AhrimanGate says:

    Do not answer your phone with “HELLO”. This prompts the recording. I always answer my phone with…. “This is John”. If I don’t get a response in 3 seconds, its a voice automated system and I hang up.

  6. Jackie Puppet says:

    I’ve been getting calls over the last several months from numbers with the same area code & prefix. Usually, it’s “Hilton Hotels” offering a free stay at a resort, or someone offering a credit card scam. I don’t even say a thing if I answer, I just give them an opportunity to show if they’re a real person or a recording.

    Once, I decided to call one back out of curiosity, and a real person answered. Totally unrelated to the scam.

    So it looks like these scams are also spoofing legit phone numbers.

  7. Tommy says:

    So how would that scammer have your credit card info or home security info AND your phone number to call you? Besides if they do try to scam you where they say “you authorized this $10,000 purchase and here is you saying ‘yes'” and then they play you saying “yes”, all you have to do is challenge them to hear the whole authorization sentence and not just you saying one word. I got the same call they were talking about with a woman saying she dropped her headset and asked if I could hear her. I think I said yes and she rambled so I hung up. I haven’t heard anything from my credit cards or utilities since then and that’s been a few weeks now. If I do hear from them, I’ll tell them about this scam if they don’t already know. You’re only liable up to $50 on your credit card anyway.

  8. Dave says:

    Time to start suing the phone companies who apparently do nothing to keep these scams from happening! There was an IRS scam a while back, and the papers all listed the phone number that was calling. The IRS scam had been using the same phone number for more than a year. But some how no one could stop them!

  9. ScamBuster says:

    Let ’em take you to court (or file with a credit bureau) over their bogus charges. THAT way, we’ll know who and where they are …

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