Home NEWS Local Scene “Take Me Off Your List!”

“Take Me Off Your List!”

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We’ll spare you the military references but there’s a popular series out depicting a small squad action against a larger, entrenched force where the attackers use surprise to their advantage.

“Look,” the squad leader shouts over the crescendo of a firefight. “We must be doing something right, they’re firing on each other…”

That resonated this week as we began taking calls from frustrated 24/680-ites subjected to unceasing waves of robocall scams generated by charlatans from – usually – abroad. We spoke with half a dozen locals who took calls from other angry locals who proceeded to dress them down for calling them with an obvious scam – but who didn’t realize that the scammers are succeeding in getting us angry at each other by spoofing legitimate phone numbers.

“I realized something was up when I got three calls from righteously angry dudes in three days,” one neighbor reported. “All guys, all really *issed off at me for threatening to shut off their power. I tried to explain that someone was obviously scamming them and using my phone number to do it – but they didn’t want to listen…”

Which leads us to the problem. People aren’t listening. We’ve been writing about these phone scams, some of them just warmed-up versions of old confidence schemes – for years now and people continue to fall victim to them. Sometimes, the victims send off large sums of money to get a relative out of jail in a foreign country, to lift a fraudulent arrest warrant or to prevent their power from being shut off – which, of course, was not about to happen.

Then the recrimination sets in, and the need to get some payback, so the angry calls go out to the only tangible thing the scammer leaves them with – a bogus phone number – and they lay into some poor person who has no idea what they’re talking about. And that’s when we thought about that movie scene “… they got us firing at each other” and thought about how insidious these cons really are.

Preying on people, sowing fear and anxiety… all while taking $30 billion from Americans each year.

And, judging from what we’re hearing, these scams show no sign of abating anytime soon. Think about it the next time you pick up the phone to give someone a piece of your mind.


    • I always find it unfortunate the victim blaming that often accompanies such stories. We do not all have the same background and skillsets. My elderly relative who was born in the 1930s grew up with no internet and got scammed by a phone call supposedly from Microsoft where they had to log on to fix her desktop computer. Of course they locked the PC and demanded ransom, which didn’t get paid because she mostly only used it for writing and emailing letters to her grandchildren. It did turn her PC into a useless paperweight. I can’t see how that was her fault.

  1. Yes! I had a man call and leave a very angry message – threatening me with all kinds of actions if I didn’t stop. It was the power shutoff thing too. I tried to call back but they must have learned their lesson because I couldn’t reach anyone. If these people are trying to get America to shut down its phone system they are winning.

  2. Craiglist scams also popular right now. They’re trolling local businesses for legit sounding phone numbers and then spoofing them. My phone is screwed down pretty tight but work is getting the angry callbacks.

  3. We’ve been using Nomorobo for quite a few years now to screen out most of these known robocallers on our landline. In probably 95% of these calls, the phone rings once and that’s the end of it. Surprisingly, the service is free for landlines, but there’s a fee for cellphones. Callers who get past Nomorobo are then handled by our “old school” answering machine. We listen for a legitimate caller and then pickup. Otherwise, most robocallers hang up. Just about the only robocalls that have gotten through are the ones claiming that our car warranty has expired. We haven’t gotten one of those in months, so may the FTC has shut them down. I don’t know why, but I get very few robocalls on my cellphone, even without the help of Nomorobo.

  4. There are whole business blocks devoted to harboring these scam centers in India. Sector 5 is extremely active. And they are proud of their ability to separate Americans and others from their money. Local police make occasional show arrests but they are allowed to do what they do with impunity for the most part.

  5. Unless you’re very elderly, there’s no reason to fall for these scams. How naive and gullible are you? Don’t pick up the phone unless you recognize the number. Leave the answering machine “full.” It will get you taken off the list. Block all unrecognizable numbers. Yes, I blocked my cousin, etc. They’ll understand with explanation… the frustration of dealing with scammers, knowing the FTC will do nothing. It’s sad that we have to live like this, but it’s reality.

    Take control and leave in peace. We did this years ago.

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