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Can You Hear Me? (telephone scam)

Can You Hear Me? is an alleged telephone scam that occurred in the United States and Canada in 2017. Questions have been raised as to whether such a scam actually occurred, or if it occurred in the form generally described.

BackgroundEdit

According to news reports on the alleged scam, victims of the purported fraud receive telephone calls from an unknown person who asks "can you hear me"? The victim's response of "yes" is recorded and subsequently used to make unauthorized purchases in the victim's name. Between January and February 2017, the existence of the scam was reported by multiple media outlets including CBS News and NPR affiliate WNYC-FM.[1][2][3] In January 2017, Seattle NBC affiliate KING-TV contacted police agencies in western Washington and reported no authorities had heard of the scam; in a follow-up story the next month the station reported that many police in the area had since received concerned inquiries about "the scam that was sweeping the country".[4]

In early February 2017 the Delta, British Columbia newspaper The Delta Optimist reported that "the 'Can you hear me?' scam has now crossed the border into Canada".[5]

By the end of February 2017, the scam was reported in the United Kingdom by CPR Call Blocker, a call blocking company warning of it in The Independent.[6]

On March 27, 2017, the FCC issued an official warning about the telephone scam.[7]

VeracityEdit

Investigating reports of the possible scam, Snopes noted that all purported targets of the scam only reported having been victimized after hearing about the scam in news reports. Snopes went on to note that it had contacted the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Federation of America, none of whom could provide evidence of an individual actually having been financially defrauded after receiving one of the telephone calls. Snopes also analyzed a number of news reports in which media interviewed self-identified victims of the scam; in none of the stories it looked at did a victim report having been financially defrauded after receiving one of the phone calls. Snopes ultimately classified the claims as "unproven".[8][9]

Tom Lyons, a columnist at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and an official at the caller ID company Hiya theorized that the purported calls were an automated dialer employed by a telemarketing firm to confirm the authenticity of the telephone numbers on its dialing lists, and not an attempt at financial fraud.[10] [11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "'Can you hear me?' scam report may have been bogus". The Patriot-News. January 31, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  2. ^ "Can You Hear Me? Scam Wants You to Answer 'Yes'". WNYC-FM. February 16, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  3. ^ Kristof, Kathy (January 26, 2017). "Beware new "can you hear me" scam". CBS News. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  4. ^ "'Can you hear me' scam reaches Tacoma Loading". KING-TV. February 18, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  5. ^ "Can you hear me scam hits Canada". Delta Optimist. February 12, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  6. ^ Hosie, Rachel. "'Can you hear me' phone scam currently defrauding US consumers set to hit British shores". independent.co.uk. The Independent. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  7. ^ https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-warns-can-you-hear-me-phone-scams
  8. ^ "'Can You Hear Me?' Scam Warning". Snopes. Snopes. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  9. ^ Elliot, Matt (February 1, 2017). "The truth about the 'Can you hear me?' scam". CNET. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  10. ^ Lyons, Tom (February 1, 2017). "Lyons: A phone scam, or an urban legend?". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  11. ^ "Here's how the 'Can you hear me?' phone scam works". Detroit Free Press. February 1, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017.