One Gift card a time, Scammers are wrecking people’s lives: Who’s putting up a fight

A few safeguards have been implemented to prevent gift card scams with a few individuals stepping in to fill the voids. Jim Browning had had enough four years ago. He, like many others, received constant calls from scammers, disturbing his days with attempts to dupe him into paying them money. Rather than being irritated and disregarding his phone, Browning resolved to retaliate.

Having begun researching scammers’ tactics and discovered that many of them utilized the same script and similar remote control software tools. He leveraged his day-to-day computer skills to create a virtual PC (more like a safe and secure virtual machine running in an app on his real computer. Browning behaved as though he had issues with his internet connection as he took remote control of the scammer’s computer quietly no than they connected with his virtual PC, sure another victim had been baited little knowing that was from the case.

He’d then download their data, which included victim lists, notes, and personal files. He’d utilize a connection to the scammer’s computer to eavesdrop on their phone app conversations, occasionally pursuing and obstructing a scammer in the process as they attempted to defraud someone. By estimates, Browning has disrupted over 1,000 scams, sacrificing up to 12 hours a week on the task.  Unsure of what the impact of his efforts will be, he occasionally notifies law enforcement who a lot of the time do not heed or spring into action.

He’s gotten his efforts cut out for him. In recent years, the world of internet fraud has erupted; in April, a Harris Poll study of 2,000 Americans endorsed by the app True caller discovered that one in every three people had been a victim of a phone scam, and much more than half of them had been a victim on several occasions. Last year, the money lost totaled an approximated $29.8 billion, an astounding increase from the $19.7 billion Truecaller predicted for 2019. The extent of gift card deception, in which scammers dupe people into purchasing gift cards and giving the numbers, is particularly difficult to determine since many victims do not report the crime. They are frequently embarrassed, so unlike identity theft, in which greater consumer safeguards are in place, and there’s almost no way for them to obtain their money back.

Little is known about who has the fraudulently used gift cards,” said Mark Roberts, who happens to be a co-founder of the Southern California enterprise Leverage well almost two decades ago. At the time, the company urged people to use its platform to register their gift cards. In return, the site would assist users in tracking, managing, and exchanging cards with other users. Roberts added that the retail stores he worked with were knowledgeable of gift card fraudsters even back then, but it was small enough that “they largely didn’t care.”

Fraud has grown so large, some people’s righteous indignation has erupted into intervention. Over the last few years, an increasing number of scam chasers have found success by sharing their exploits on YouTube as well as other video sites. They garner millions of followers, luring unwitting fraudsters in, wasting their time, stealing their files, and disrupting their operational processes. Browning as well as other scam baiters have garnered so much exposure that, while many scammers appear to recognize their names, they also realize they’re only scratching the surface. However, if they can destabilize even a fraction of the scams out there, Browning believes that anyone who can keep a scammer preoccupied is safeguarding some other victim.

Stopping scams nearly every day, Browning began posting videos to YouTube as a quick way that can provide evidence to internet service providers and law enforcement agencies. Highlighting the scams with screen capture software to demonstrate how they work, while providing systematical commentary in his low, heavily accented voice. He hoped that his evidence would result in internet outages and police raids. But, over time, he drew more than 3.5 million subscribers, with a significant increase since the onset of the pandemic.

Counteracting the Scammers

Not all scammers adhere to Browning’s formula for instance one who goes by the name Kitboga employs a voice modulator to seem like one of several personas he’s created. He posts videos on his YouTube channel, with a following of over 2 million, featuring the character “Matilda,” an elderly lady who provides talk about her life to scam artists who believe she’s an easy target. In the meantime, she gradually wastes their time with her fictitious journeys all over town, complete with Kitboga’s various background sounds of driving a car, riding a bicycle, or moving around a store. She also “wedded” a scam artist over the phone once.

While scammers are using a variety of false stories to deceive their victims, plenty of them have tried to gain legitimacy by claiming to work for major companies like Microsoft, Apple, Huawei, and many others.

Written by HackerVibes

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