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Security Crime Japan Technology

Fighting Scams Targeting the Elderly With Old-School Tech 98

itwbennett writes Sharp is launching a pair of landline phones designed to counter a growing form of fraud in Japan that preys upon the elderly. The 'ore ore' ('it's me, it's me') fraudsters pretend to be grandchildren in an emergency and convince their victims to send money, generally via ATM. Sharp's new phones are designed to alert seniors to the dangers of unknown callers. When potential victims receive that are not registered in the internal memory of Sharp's new phones, their LED bars glow red and the phones go into anti-scam mode. An automated message then tells the caller that the call is being recorded and asks for the caller to state his or her name before the call is answered.
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Fighting Scams Targeting the Elderly With Old-School Tech

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hot diggity! I don't care if it's bad news! It's you, it's you? And you want money? Fine, fine! Call back soon!!

    • I was going to reply to the article, but for the life of me I couldn't find the "post" button. Things have been really out of sorts on the top menu too., Guess this is Dice's way of forcing "beta" upon us no matter how much we've told them we don't like it.

      Anyway, back on topic. Why not just teach seniors to tell anyone claiming to be their grandchild to call their parents if they need money? It's not as if haven't spent a good portion of their lives paying to support parasites already, right?

      • by berberine ( 1001975 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @06:57AM (#49145695) Homepage

        Anyway, back on topic. Why not just teach seniors to tell anyone claiming to be their grandchild to call their parents if they need money? It's not as if haven't spent a good portion of their lives paying to support parasites already, right?

        Because hearing gets bad as you age and you're not totally sure it's your grandkid or not. Because people suffer dementia when they get older. Because it's easy to confuse people when they get older. Because if you're a scammer and you're good at what you do, it's easy to guilt people or threaten people into giving you money.

        There's a reason these scams are done worldwide. They work. I saw my own very intelligent grandma fall victim to a phone scammer once. She never would have fallen for it in her younger days, but at 85, those fast talking bastards nearly cleaned her bank account out. My mom was able to get all her money back after about 14 months. And you know what, my grandma died in 2011 and those fuckers are still calling. They told my mom last week that they had just talked to my grandma and she authorized payment so my mother better stop meddling, or else. My mom told them to feel free to go to the police and report her.

        It happens. It doesn't matter how old you are. Pressure tactics, when done right, are scary as hell, particularly to the elderly. I live in a small town and the banks here already have similar alerts available. If you try to make a payment that is out of the ordinary, which you set up what would be considered normal transactions, they won't allow payment until they speak with you or your representative. Just because you've been used to scams your whole life, doesn't mean you still won't fall victim to one.

        • by N1AK ( 864906 )
          I still find it hard to comprehend why more isn't done to protect people from scammers and pursue those who run these scams. A government can easily put eye-bleedingly large fines on any company who provides a phone number that is used for scamming. This would make the companies who provide the UK/US/etc numbers on the end of overseas scams far more cautious about who they provide them to.

          Then you're only left with foreign calls which a) cost scammers vastly more, b) already look very suspect, and c) can
          • by mlts ( 1038732 )

            VoIP scams are easy to do. For example, callerID is fairly easy to forge and it doesn't cost much money to set up a boiler room and staff it with people who do this. This allows a company to be in India, but still call from a US number.

            To boot, there are very stiff fines... but have you seen how a lot of the robocall firms are organized? Most have a lot of holding corporations that they work with, one owns the furniture, one pays the employees, one possesses the computer data, so when the main company, s

        • When I was living in my grandfather's house after he moved to an old folks' home, and before we sold it I used to toy with these assholes. They'd ask for "Mr. wikthemighty" (which I was) and I'd go along with their schemes and ask them all sorts of odd questions, and eventually they'd run in to "oh, I'm not that Mr. wikthemighty - he doesn't live here anymore" or "he's dead, you need to update your records" or whatever I felt like saying at the time... My mom died in 2007 and my dad still gets mail and cal
        • I've trained my mom, (older, confused) to call me immediately if she is confused about something someone calling her is telling her. It works, because she understands that I will protect her.

      • by hodet ( 620484 )

        the teale colored "Post" text on teale background makes it hard to see.

        • That alone isn't going to help the poster. See the horizontal green bar between the article and the first post? Hover your mouse just inside the left side to see the "Post" button. If you continue to the right a bit, you'll see the "Load All Comments" button. Welcome to "Find Waldo, Slashdot Edition".
      • OT reply: I wasn't drunk, but as soon as I saw Slashdot today, I was ready to get drunk!

  • Any scammer worth his salt does his homework and already knows the victim's kids' / grandkids' names anyway, so this is kind of pointless.

    Best advice is to hang up and try to contact the supposed kidnapped person first.
    • Replying to myself just to post that this new layout looks shit on Chromium. That's all I can get at work besides IE 9 and an outdated version of FF (20, I think)..
      • You shouldn't post just to say this layout is shit.

        Which it is.

        But you shouldn't.

        And yet here we are.

        Shit Shit Shit.

        That will be all.

      • Just curous - how did you do your first post? I don't have a "post" button, and can only "reply to this".

        Though I suppose that could be intentional. Maybe you have to meet certain preconditions to be allowed to get "post" privileges.

      • FWIW, it also looks like shit on the current FF.

    • Any scammer worth his salt does his homework and already knows the victim's kids' / grandkids' names anyway

      That is not web-scale :)

    • Any scammer worth his salt does his homework and already knows the victim's kids' / grandkids' names anyway, so this is kind of pointless. Best advice is to hang up and try to contact the supposed kidnapped person first.

      Not really. It's too much work doing research, those scammers work by infusing a sense of urgency to situation and the ones capable of keeping calm in the face of an emergency are the less gullible.
      However, Sharp's strategy may backfire, for a scammer, upon being intercepted by a scam prevention system, may perceive that the person who he is calling as more likely to be vulnerable, and so, worth more effort.

      • Sharp's strategy may backfire, for a scammer, upon being intercepted by a scam prevention system, may perceive that the person who he is calling as more likely to be vulnerable

        The automated system that may have been put in place by family members, legal guardians, social services or the police?

        Not worth the risk.

      • Any scammer worth his salt does his homework and already knows the victim's kids' / grandkids' names anyway, so this is kind of pointless. Best advice is to hang up and try to contact the supposed kidnapped person first.

        Not really. It's too much work doing research, those scammers work by infusing a sense of urgency to situation and the ones capable of keeping calm in the face of an emergency are the less gullible. However, Sharp's strategy may backfire, for a scammer, upon being intercepted by a scam prevention system, may perceive that the person who he is calling as more likely to be vulnerable, and so, worth more effort.

        That depends, really, on if it's actually recording and if it's known to be. If it's recording, then it becomes evidence for a criminal case, moving things out of civil court and also making the shell game riskier as that likely courts prosecution under RICO or the local equivalent.

        The person may be more likely to be vulnerable, but the risks go up, especially as a larger payoff is likely to also increase the odds of those recordings being checked.

    • > Any scammer worth his salt does his homework

      I'm afraid not. The scammers tend to be high volume, low overhead operations. Some ongoing email scams and phone scams even seem tuned to fail very quickly for even slightly alert victims, so that the scammer's time isn't wasted on victims who will catch on somewhat further along in the process, and they can invest time in many, many more calls to much easier victims.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      Most of the scammers tend to be those casting a wide net. They bought an info dump with thousands of names, phone numbers, and such in it, feeding the numbers into a robodialer, and having people in a boiler room use names of relatives automatically on a scripted speech.

      An anti-fraud device, or something asking for info to be called back at will be more than enough protection, because the scammer will just move to the next potential mark on the data dump and try them.

      They try to be relatively quick about i

  • wtf (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X10 ( 186866 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @06:39AM (#49145647) Homepage

    I like this new feature "hidden post button"

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Someone had to tell me - It's there if you hover over the bar, but for some reason the "Change" button (which I've never used) is as grey and obvious as it ever was.

  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @07:00AM (#49145707)

    Yeah, these scammers tried hitting my grandmother before, fortunately she's still pretty sharp and recognized it immediately.

    That being said, with social media, these kinds of scams have the capability to become a lot worse. The scammer that called my grandmother did a generic "grandmom it's me", which didn't work because my Chinese is pretty accented as an American-born speaker -- instant giveaway from the first word out of his mouth.

    But with a little research they could have loaded it up with a lot more detail.

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @07:17AM (#49145775) Homepage

    Wow, that was a fun game Slashdot, but I finally found the hidden "Post" button.

    Green text on a very slightly darker green background? Genius!

    Get your act together. You're looking even more amateurish than usual.

  • Oh, COME ON! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pscottdv ( 676889 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @07:52AM (#49145909)

    Slashdot. Seriously? The Post button is all but completely hidden and elements are randomly overlaying other elements. Sigs are on top of the reply links. "You may like to read links" overlay the "voting on submissions" text. Buttons appear and disappear as you hover over them. Everything just has a smashed-together feel.

    Is it really so very, very hard to just leave things alone?

  • Aren't there enough scams out there that target the elderly? Now there are "fighting scams"?
    It's so frustrating I can't even RTFA.

  • It was Christmas time, and we were at my mother-in-law's house for the holiday, when she received a call. The person on the other end claimed to be my nephew, calling grandma because he had gone for a joy ride with friends and gotten in an accident with the car. (He didn't quite have his license yet, so it was possible, even if slightly out of character.) He said he broke his nose, to explain why his voice sounded funny, and that he was calling from the police station to get bail, but was too embarrassed to call his dad. He wanted to explain what happened face-to-face with his parents, not over the phone.

    The acting was very convincing, and really did almost sound like my nephew... with a broken nose. While my wife kept trying to ask questions about what police station he was at, etc, I called his parents on my cell-phone, and found out my nephew was sitting at the breakfast table with them. Before I could relay that however, the scammer must have gotten tired of my wife's questions, because he said the police were taking the phone away, and that his court appointed lawyer would call us back shortly. (We never got the second call from the "lawyer.")

    On my side of the family, my mother almost was caught by an overseas bail extortion call. A cousin of mine was travelling in China, where the call claimed a relative was being held. My mother actually got to the credit union to withdraw the money, where the teller (who knows her) stopped her from doing so. I only heard about that one after the fact.

    My wife got called by a Nigeria scam (sort of). The person claimed she had won a car in a drawing, but needed her to wire the sales tax for the vehicle. Coincidently, she had recently put a ticket in a drawing at the county fair, so there was a possibility, but a bunch of things didn't pass the "smell test." She kept asking questions, and the final clue was the phone number which the scammer gave for her to call back once she had purchased a Green Dot money card. The number was from one of the Caribbean islands which have an area code like a US call (not an obviously international call), but since it wasn't local, my wife looked it up. (We later got a sales call from a local travel agent regarding the county fair drawing; we didn't win the car, but could visit a timeshare if we wanted.)

  • My 87 year old Grandfather recently got one of these calls. Fortunately, he is still very sharp and smelled a rat. They called and said "Hi, it's your grandson". He said, which one? They said, "you know, your Grandson!" and proceeded to come up with a story asking for money. Since my Grandfather has 11 grandchildren and 4 grandsons, that didn't exactly narrow things down. He figured it was a scam and hung up. But I worry that one day his mind won't be so sharp.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      But I worry that one day his mind won't be so sharp.

      That doesn't necessarily mean he'll have trouble, though: one of these scammers called up my grandmother. The scam fell flat with the second word out of his mouth -- she may not be able to remember what she had for breakfast, or even reliably recognize us on sight, but she knows damn well that none of us ever called her "gramma".

      She also hasn't lost the ability to chew someone out in fine fashion.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @11:52AM (#49147637)

    Pay us or you'll never see your Post button again!

  • Ok, let's deal with abouy 80% of the dollars scammed out of retirees the past 30 years.

    "What are you doing?"

    "I'm putting a child block on all your home shopping channels, grampa."

    These things specialize in convincing the lonely elderly the hosts are their friends, with peals of joy and friendship when purchases are made. Look! She likes me!

    Spend thousands a week, blow thru $20,000 of savings in a month.

    To quote a wise opinion on the subject from several years ago, "Kill yourselves."

    "That's not very funny!

    • Good point about the home shopping network, but I guess my feeling is that it's the grandparents' money, they earned it, and if they want to blow it, that should be their decision.

      True story. My grandfather confessed an idea of doing some traveling -- cross country road trip, international travel, cruises. I said, why don't you do that? He said, they're saving their money to pass along to their children (my mom and aunt).

      You know what? Screw that. I lobbied hard for the grandparents to get out and do w

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday February 27, 2015 @03:43PM (#49149587) Journal

    We only have one child. At a very early age, about the time she could memorize the home address and house phone number, we decided on a passphrase.

    The phrase is fairly random, not anything that could be gleaned from facebook accounts or other personal records. It's multiple words, (like the XKCD "correct horse battery staple") so one of us could say part of the phrase and the other could say the other part, which authenticates both parties.

    Once a month or so, when I picked her up from school or dropped her off from an event, or some other time when we were alone, I would say "what's the passphrase" and she'd repeat it to me. Now 17 years later, she still remembers the phrase, and only her, my wife and I know it.

    We've never needed it.

    But if I get a call from someone saying "daddy I need money right now or they're going to put me in prison" or some other permutation of the scam, I would ask "What do you need to say?" (The answer is not "please".)

    This solution is really easy to implement and requires no technology. (Which is probably why it doesn't show up on Slashdot.)

    Were I to do it over again, I'd have all of us memorize two passphrases, one that means "I am me and I am making this request" and "I am me but I am being coerced into making this request". I still might do that.

    Hopefully, when my daughter has kids, she'll teach them a passphrase. (And share it with the grandparents.)

    Where did I get this idea? I am a little embarrassed to say. It was from a Hardy Boys novel, circa early 1960's. The father, who is himself a detective, always puts a tiny mark under his signature. The signature authenticates him, and the mark means "I'm ok". If his signature does not contain the mark, it is either a forgery, or he's being coerced into signing.

Alexander Graham Bell is alive and well in New York, and still waiting for a dial tone.

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