Taking Credit Card Scams To A New Level

Credit card fraud is nothing new, but scammer’s methods are rapidly becoming more sophisticated. One new technique, as detailed by victim Andy Welch this week, involves taking advantage of a quirk of outdated technology.

As with all great magic tricks, the key is trust. Once your victim believes they are in control of what they are seeing, they are sold. You signed the playing card and put it back in the pack, which you then shuffled, so there’s no way you could be fooled surely?

Alas, it’s always an illusion. And in Andy’s case, the vital piece to the fraud was getting him to believe he had called his bank. He’d dialled the numbers – the numbers from the back of his bank card – on his own phone, so there was no issue he thought. Of course, as he explains in his article, the scammers had taken advantage of an old trick, used by many from young practical jokers to distrusting wives throughout the years.

Put simply, when you use a landline telephone it is the caller’s responsibility to end the call. If the caller doesn’t hang up they remain on the line, regardless of whether the receiver puts their phone down. So when Andy replaced his phone, picked it up again and dialled his bank, the fraudster remained on the call and with a few simple dial-tone sound effects the illusion was complete. From then on Andy was sold.

Aside from the immoral and illegal motive, it is a beautifully worked trick. And like the best magician’s routines the hook is simple, easy to work and has a high chance of success. It’s just a shame to see it used for such unlawful reasons.

(If the full article is a bit too wordy for you, The Guardian ran a summarised version today.)