Have you ever received a phone call from a tech support scammer? If so, you’ll know that these criminals have no moral objections when it comes to tricking people into installing malware on their computers or handing over credit card/bank details. So it’s always nice to hear about members of the public fighting back.
After a telemarketer used some unpleasant language toward his young son, Roger Anderson, a telecom consultant and owner of The Jolly Roger Telephone Company, decided to build an army of phone bots that he now sells to businesses and consumers. Whenever telemarketers call, people can secretly transfer them to the human-sounded bots, who will chat until the person on the other end realizes what’s going on.
The bot gives generic responses such as "yes" or "uh-huh" or "I'm listening," along with stuff like "Oh geez, hang on, there's a bee on my arm. You keep talking. I'm just going to stay quiet because of this bee." Another pre-recorded track involves a woman getting into a fight with her daughter. Check out the company's YouTube channel for more examples.
After Anderson received a support scam message from a “certified Windows Support agent” – this time via a popup on his PC, rather than a phone call – he decided to unleash his bot army against the scammers.
"I ended up getting a popup saying my computer was infected. I felt invaded. I thought, 'screw that.' Of all the people on the planet, I'm probably the only guy that has the tech to make blast phone calls. And I have robots that sound like people convincingly enough to waste time," he told Business Insider.
Anderson stressed that he has never used his bots to make outbound calls for malicious purposes before, but he made an exception for the scammers. First, he called the number on the screen to make sure it was an actual scam call center. He then used one of his bots to make a call - it convinced a scammer that they were talking to a real person for over five minutes. At this point, Anderson hit them with the full force of his automated bots.
"I called 100 times on 20 simultaneous channels. They answered, talked to my bots. Then they started to put my bots on hold. Then they started swearing, shouting to each other, about what is going on, I could hear in the background. Then I made 500 calls on 20 simultaneous channels to the number. After 300 phone, they disconnected the number," he said.
Within just 15-20 minutes, Anderson had finished off the company. The number on the popup is now reportedly out of service, thanks to his actions. "I completely annihilated them," he said.
Anderson now wants people to report similar phone scam line numbers to him, so they too can experience the same treatment. Just drop his company an email at email@example.com if you know a scam number you think should be targeted.
"I guarantee I have more [telephone] ports in my system then they have in theirs. Even if they hang up on a robot, I can congest their call center so their potential victims can’t call in," he said.
Anderson is asking for donations to cover the costs, as making so many calls to mostly offshore numbers isn’t cheap, obviously.
Coincidentally, I received a scam call while writing this article from someone claiming to be from my ISP, insisting that a "virus is making its way down my router." Maybe I'll ask Anderson to set his bots on them.