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The Secrets Behind Call Center Scams

Ben Taylor shares the secrets of call center scams.

Ben Taylor is a scambaiter. He makes videos about scams – how they work, what to watch out for, and the people behind them. He has engaged personally with multiple people working on call center scams, and he knows what happens behind the scenes.


See Call Center Scams with Ben Taylor for the full transcript of the Easy Prey podcast episode.

Ben runs the YouTube channel Pleasant Green. His videos cover all kinds of scams, from tech support scams to lottery scams to romance scams. Sometimes he even tries to give scammers an opportunity to do something better with their lives.

How Scambaiting Works

“Scambaiting” means that you are seeking out scammers or “baiting” them, trying to get them to target you for their scam. The idea is that if you’re wasting their time, they’re not out scamming someone else. So many people fall for scammers, if you are wasting their time and frustrating them, it slows them down.

Another part of scambaiting is raising awareness of their scams. Many scambaiters have some sort of platform – like Ben’s YouTube channel – where they post their scambaiting and expose how the scams work. Ben has had a lot of people emailing him saying they almost fell for a scam, but they Googled it first and one of his videos came up.

Ben plans to continue scambaiting and posting it on his YouTube channel as long as he keeps running into scams. He hopes that he’s doing some good.

The Biggest Scams to Avoid

Romance scams are extremely common. There are a lot of people looking for love in the world. They’re often perpetrated by people in West and Central Africa creating fake accounts on dating sites. They will social engineer their victims to send them money. This is an old scam, but it still happens.

A major scam that Ben has seen on the rise is call center scams. Scammers are in call centers, often in India, calling people with tech support and Amazon refund scams. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t received a call saying, “Hey, you made this charge for $900, and if you don’t cancel it it’s going to be shipped to you.” Many people get that call and respond, “Of course, I need to cancel that, tell me how.” There’s a whole process to trick you into sending money because you think you just got a refund.

How People Fall for Call Center Scams

A lot of victims of tech support scams are elderly. They often don’t understand the technology enough to know that the caller isn’t genuine. They believe what they’re told because they trust the person calling them knows more than they do. When someone calls and says they’re from Amazon and they need you to go to a website and give them access to your computer so they can fix a problem, you trust them.

Elderly people are common targets for call center scams because they often trust the caller to know more about technology than they do.

It’s not always elderly people – sometimes it’s people who are distracted. Someone who’s busy may get a tech support scam call and say, “Whatever, I trust you, just fix it.” Maybe you have something else important going on, or maybe you actually are trying to solve an issue with Amazon when a scammer pretending to be from Amazon calls you.

Many people think they could never fall for a scam. Jim Browning is a popular YouTube scambaiter, and even he fell for a tech support scam. He was trying to transfer things to a new phone, and got an email from a scammer pretending to be Google. He thought it was just another thing he had to do, so he trusted the email and was tricked into deleting his YouTube channel. If a scambaiter can fall for a scam, anyone can.

Avoid Call Center Scams by Asking Questions

It’s important that you’re aware and you’re asking questions – always just asking questions.

Ben Taylor

Scammers will often call and ask you to verify your name and address. Flip the script – ask them to verify your information. Often they don’t have it. Or you can provide fake information. It doesn’t matter what you say – a call center scammer has a script, and they just need to get a name from you.

Also ask where they are from. You can ask what city they’re in, the nature of the call, the last few purchases on your Amazon account. Ask things that will help you verify that these people really are with Amazon, Microsoft Tech Support, or wherever they claim to be from. A legitimate caller will have answers; a scammer won’t be expecting any questions.

The more questions you ask, you can sense that these scammers will get flustered because they’re the ones that should be asking questions.

Ben Taylor

Call center scammers have a script that they read from. If you can knock them off their game, you’ll see that something isn’t right. They’re trying to find the gullible people who will fall for a call center scam. If they get the sense that you’re doubtful or you’re going to be difficult, they’ll move on.

Engaging Call Center Scammers Personally

Ben sometimes engages call center scammers – and other types of scammers – on a personal level. He gets to know them, what they’re doing, and why they’re doing it. This gives him some unique insights into how and why call center scams happen.

​Why Call Center Scammers Scam People

Some scammers recognize that they’re hurting people, but not all of them. Many call center scammers have convinced themselves that they deserve it. They look at people in developed nations and think, “America’s government will take care of them if they lose a couple hundred dollars, but mine won’t. They can afford it, but I would be on the streets.” They justify themselves to themselves.

There are many scammers with that attitude, though, who do have a conscience deep down. If you peel back enough layers, they know that what they’re doing is wrong.

Some call center scammers have convinced themselves that they deserve it more. For example, Nigerian scammers will look at how the white man took so much from their country and how their grandparents were robbed by the white man. They see scamming white Westerners out of their money as repayment of what’s due to them, or as a way of getting back.

For most call center scammers, though, this is just how they feed their families. They may justify it, saying that Americans can afford to lose a couple hundred dollars, but it’s just a job that they do. It’s how they put food on the table for themselves and their families. Ben looks at the situations of some of the call center scammers he engages with, and he wonders, “If I was in that situation, would I do anything different?”

Many people working on call center scams are only doing it because they don't know a better way to feed their families.

​Offering Opportunities Beyond Call Center Scams

If someone is smart enough to fake being an FBI agent or an Amazon employee online or over the phone, Ben believes they can create something of value to sell. For some scammers, Ben will offer them a job giving him insider information about the call center scams they work on. Many of them think he’s trying to scam them and walk away. But some say, “Absolutely. I don’t like doing this, so if you have a better way for me to make a living, I’m listening.”

Ben has run into some call center scammers who do it because they don’t know a better way to feed their families. He has worked with them to help develop a skill for them to market. In once of his earlier YouTube videos, Ben was contacted by a scammer in Liberia. Ben offered to hire him to take pictures instead. All he had at the time was a phone, so he started taking pictures on that. Eventually Ben invested in a $30 camera for him. He wasn’t a naturally gifted photographer, but he practiced and got better. They put a bunch of pictures showing what life was like in Libera into a book and put it on Indiegogo. They ended up raising nearly $1000, and the scammer-turned-photographer donated half of it to charity.

The real way that you build wealth and come out of poverty is by providing value to other people, not robbing other people.

Ben Taylor

After that successful story, Ben has tried to look at call center scammers as human beings. They’re people with skills and something to offer if they put their mind to it. To this day he has friendships with several people who continue to do better things than scamming. To him, it’s about making a positive difference, instead of just screaming at them for trying to scam you.

Parting Advice to Avoid Call Center Scams

Scammers are always changing their methods. Ten years ago, it was the Nigerian Prince Scam. Enough people are aware of that one now that it almost never happens; it’s just an old scam that we joke about. There are always romance scams, just with new methods and new tricks as the technology changes. And now there’s call center scams with tech support scams, Amazon refund scams, and more. Eventually there will be something new.

We have to ask a lot of questions and realize that anyone can fall for these types of scams. It’s important to be on our toes and aware of the changing methods.

We always have to be educating ourselves and being aware because they’re going to come up with new methods.

Ben Taylor

You can find Ben Taylor on his YouTube channel Pleasant Green, or on Twitter @pleasantgreen or Instagram @pleasantgrn, where he posts updates about videos he’s working on and people he’s working with.

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