If someone calls and asks 'Can you hear me?', hang up immediately to avoid fraud, say police

'Victims do not want to come forward because they are embarrassed,' says local police chief

Gabriel Samuels
Friday 27 January 2017 14:49 GMT
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Criminals use recordings of victims saying 'yes' to blackmail them with expensive charges (file photo)
Criminals use recordings of victims saying 'yes' to blackmail them with expensive charges (file photo)

Police in the US have warned residents to be wary of a telephone scam, where fraudsters record people answering the phone to help them demand huge payments.

Victims receive a phone call from a familiar local area code, and the person on the other end of the line introduces themselves and their business.

After the introduction, the person asks “Can you hear me?”. If the victim replies with “yes”, their response will be recorded for the criminal to use.

Scammers then pretend to be from a security company or holiday provider, play back the recorded verbal confirmation to the victim and threaten to take legal action if unspecified charges are not paid, according to WTKR.

People in Florida and Pennsylvania have recently reported falling victim to the scam and police in Virginia are telling people to be vigilant.

In a new guide, police have advised people “not to answer the phone from numbers you do not recognise”, refrain from giving out personal information and refuse to answer questions over the phone. Officers said the best course of action was to hang up the phone and call 911 immediately.

“Anytime you become victim to a crime, you just feel violated,” said Jo Ann Hughes of the Norfolk Police Department in Virginia. “A lot of times, victims do not want to come forward because they are embarrassed. We want people to hear this advice.”

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