Security

Man records phone scammers; listen and learn what not to do

The Globe and Mail

An Orangeville, Ont. man has taken matters into his own hands after receiving a phone call from a telemarketing scam.

On Thursday Joel Mantel, 23, was eating dinner with his family when he received a phone call from someone claiming to be a customer service agent with Microsoft.

The person on the phone told Mantel that there were problems with his computer and 'Microsoft' needed him to hand over control to them remotely.

They messed with the wrong man.

"I used to work as a computer technician and I would see people regularly getting tricked into believing that they were being helped by these scammers," Mr. Mantel says.

"Instead they would find all of their data being held captive unless they paid the 'fake Microsoft' to unlock their own computer."

Mr. Mantel recognized the scam right away and began recording the conversation on his iPhone, with every intention of uploading it to the Internet. He then pretended to be a 45-year-old man who was very concerned about the health of his computer, following every instruction he was given.

He even included sound effects and enlisted co-stars to help seal the deal.

Below is the audio recording of the conversation, as uploaded to SoundCloud by Mr. Mantel:

"I tried to make it sound as if I was actually typing and doing what they wanted," Mr. Mantel explains. "I even got my dad to impersonate a police officer to freak them out."

The end result is an entertaining eight and a half minute conversation which includes the tables being turned, as the scammers become the frustrated ones while Mr. Mantel pretends to not understand basic computer instructions.

But it isn't all fun and games, as the scam is something Mr. Mantel takes very seriously. This particular scam is especially popular in the Orangeville area and has been for years, according to Mantel.

"I hear of countless people getting tricked and scammed each week," he says.

While it seemed like he was just having fun at the scammer's expense, while also entertaining those who listen later, Mr. Mantel had a bigger plan in motion.

"I thought to myself, the longer I'm chatting with them and acting confused, the more evidence I can give to the real authorities after the conversation was over," he explains. Mr. Mantel has since handed the audio file over to the RCMP Anti-Fraud Centre.

"They told me the best thing to do in my case was to share the audio clip with the media to raise awareness to the scam," Mr. Mantel says. "It's a form of blackmail I feel nobody should ever be tricked into."

Mr. Mantel says the main thing is don't blindly follow instructions from someone randomly making phone calls, no matter how convincing they sound.

"Protect yourself, ask questions and don't allow strangers into your home online."

If anyone else has experienced this scam, or others, the RCMP says complaints can be registered with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or on antifraudcentre.ca.

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