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FTC Bombs Massive Robocall Operation

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the take-that-robots dept.

Spam 154

coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today had a federal court in Chicago halt a major telemarketing operation that made at least 370 million illegal phone calls pitching worthless extended auto warranties and credit card interest rate-reduction programs. According to the FTC, one telephone service provider told the FTC that during a single day in April 2009 the defendants — SBN Peripherals — sent 2.4 million calls to consumers — more than 27 calls per second."

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It's One of Those Days (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524534)

FTC Bombs Massive Robocall Operation

It's one of those days when you wish the headlines were literal in meaning. I mean, surely the FTC could pull some strings and a few cluster bombs could go "missing" en route to Iraq ...

Re:It's One of Those Days (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524578)

I don't know why but last night I was watching Youtube. I stumbled across a few videos. How to annoy a Telemarketer with 1 word was pretty funny. But there was one that said there were like 10 rules or guidelines all telemarketers must follow and if you gather the evidence, you can sue them in small claims court for $500 per infraction.

Re:It's One of Those Days (4, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524766)

I saw this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oh4EPcOpSy8 [youtube.com] (How to torment telemarketers with one word ).

Didn't seem to torment the telemarketer much. Plus the telemarketer has him on the record as being a moron :D. and I think that was one experienced telemarketer (might have dealt with speaking to bots before - I'm sure someone must have set up a telemarketer handling bot ;) ).

FWIW, I think automated "Hold on, the baby's ...", and similar "please wait" type responses would waste more time.

But if you don't want to tie up your line maybe something like this would help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_information_tones [wikipedia.org]

Three tones, then "The number you have dialed is not for telemarketing, please wait if you are someone I would like to speak to".

Re:It's One of Those Days (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32524818)

Sure, sue them. But only if:

- You can find them (nobody to sue if you don't know who the are)
- You have proof of the contents of the call (their word against yours)
- Your time is free (or at least cheaper than the $500 you might get)

There is a better solution: Just Hang Up On Them.

Re:It's One of Those Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525968)

Sure. And Just Hit Delete on spam. Let it be somebody else's problem.

Re:It's One of Those Days (1)

Senior Frac (110715) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525488)

There have been a few people who have tried taking this to small claims court under these laws. In general the judges in small claims courts are political animals and refuse to enforce them. It's the same story with the anti-spam laws.

Re:It's One of Those Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32526232)

Not true.

I know at least a dozen people who have sued robocallers, and won, and collected $$$. IMX, most judges have absolutely no problem throwing these clowns under a bus and awarding damages to plaintiffs.

Re:It's One of Those Days (5, Insightful)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524592)

I think most of the American public would be okay with labeling them "enemy combatants"

Re:It's One of Those Days (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524680)

I think most of the American public would be okay with labeling them "enemy combatants"

Is it wrong to hope that I someday see a black and white combat video on Wikileaks of an Apache gunship pointed at the blown out wall of some skyscraper with a wounded telemarketer or auto-dialer operator laying next to a headset and the gunners voice come over saying, "Just pick up the #%&$ing headset, just give me a reason, motha$%#@er!"

Seriously, if these are the jerks that harass my poor grandmother then I hope for nothing else for these people. I know it should be directed at the people running the operations but right now everyone involved should be held accountable because they know what they're doing. Why is it that you get in trouble for distributing marijuana for a bigger fish but you don't get in trouble for working as a call operator at some telemarketer who is making illegal telephone calls?

Re:It's One of Those Days (4, Funny)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524718)

Is it wrong to hope that I someday see a black and white combat video on Wikileaks of an Apache gunship pointed at the blown out wall of some skyscraper with a wounded telemarketer or auto-dialer operator laying next to a headset and the gunners voice come over saying, "Just pick up the #%&$ing headset, just give me a reason, motha$%#@er!"

Not even a little.

Re:It's One of Those Days (4, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525096)

I worked for our local Telecommunications company a few summers ago. Just a temp job, between semesters.

I applied for call center work, and they basically had 2 options: Sales and 411. In Sales, you'd be calling various customers with offers the telecom had available, and in 411 you'd be recieving calls requesting phone number or address info. While sales isn't as bad* as regular telemarketting, I still didn't and still don't think I could do it, knowing that I'd be basically harassing people. I chose 411, which was definately one of the most interesting jobs I've had. The Drunks on Fridays and Saturdays looking for a Cab are usually very social and hilarious. Anyways. What were we talking about again?

Right. People operating as telemarketers. Should they be strung up along with the big fish? I don't know. Often times it's the only "job" people can get that isn't in the restaurant business. I mean should the cook at McDonalds be put in Jail because he knows he's poisoning civilians with fatty food and giving them diabetes? Should the Factory worker @ Intel be fined x amount of dollars if the CEO's collude and price fix the processors?

I mean, in all those cases, the small fish pretty much knows whats going on but can't really do anything about it.

If anything, its the Marijuana situation that needs to change. They should just make it like hash bars in Amsterdam, or at least how they define them in Pulp Fiction. Legal to own, Legal to buy. If you are the proprieter of a bar, it's legal to sell. But you can only light it up in those bars.

*They're the biggest Telecom in the country so they probably adhere to federal guidelines pretty well.

Re:It's One of Those Days (2, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525250)

Right. People operating as telemarketers. Should they be strung up along with the big fish? I don't know. Often times it's the only "job" people can get that isn't in the restaurant business. I mean should the cook at McDonalds be put in Jail because he knows he's poisoning civilians with fatty food and giving them diabetes? Should the Factory worker @ Intel be fined x amount of dollars if the CEO's collude and price fix the processors?

You cover this pretty well. There is a quote that sums it up pretty well:

"These are tough times. If a man can get a job, he might not look too close at what that job is."

I know it has applied to me personally, although I haven't done telemarketing (instead, a job promoting products I don't completely agree with). Would someone pick working as a telemarketer over starving? Welfare? The real problem is people who chose to create a shady telemarketing business rather than a more constructive business.

It's One of Those RoboDays (4, Funny)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526132)

"These are tough times. If a man can get a job, he might not look too close at what that job is."

true, but aren't we talking about robo-calling? Is the job slump so bad that robots have to accept these crappy jobs in call centers?

Re:It's One of Those Days (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525614)

I mean should the cook at McDonalds be put in Jail because he knows he's poisoning civilians with fatty food and giving them diabetes?

The difference, of course, is that the cook isn't going to your house and trying to make you eat junk food; consumption of junk food is voluntary. If you don't want it, you never have to eat it. If you don't want $%^&ing telemarketing calls, sure you can opt out, but you're still subject to calls due to various loopholes, and scammers will ignore that anyway.

Re:It's One of Those Days (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525766)

There isn't as much of a difference as you might think. Ever seen a McDonalds Ad on TV? They managed to spout about their product inside your home. A telemarketter is a bit worse in that they are using your phone line, but keep in mind that you reserve the right to refuse whatever telemarketers are selling as much as you have the right to not eat at McDonalds.

Now, there are a few questions you can ask to get out of the loop holes from legit telemarketers, such as (Am I on your Do-not-Call list? Can you put me on that list? Do you keep that list for 3 years? Will your company call me for any other reasons?). Any response you don't want to hear is worth $500 in court.

For Scammers, record the Caller ID and ask them for a phone number you can use to contact the head office. Anything suspicious, report them.

Re:It's One of Those Days (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526006)

Caller ID is always spoofed in scam calls.

Re:It's One of Those Days (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526050)

I do everything in my power to avoid ads, so have not seen a McDonalds (or any other) ad in probably more than 12 years. I get your point, though.

My final solution to the problem of telemarketers was to do away with my landline and use only a cell phone. That said, I did get (what sounds like) the scumbags mentioned in the article calling my office phone at work, once or twice a week. Probably whatever employee had that number before gave it away unwisely. That stopped about 6 months ago, I'd say.

I myself don't have the time or patience (or ability to control my anger; telemarketers are parasites who really bring out the worst in me) to follow through on the various ways to screw with telemarketers - but I wish the best of luck to those people who do.

Re:It's One of Those Days (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525790)

I mean should the cook at McDonalds be put in Jail because he knows he's poisoning civilians with fatty food and giving them diabetes?

That is an opt-in suicide, whereas spam is unsolicited torture. There a Big Difference.

Re:It's One of Those Days (3, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525348)

Why is it that you get in trouble for distributing marijuana for a bigger fish but you don't get in trouble for working as a call operator at some telemarketer who is making illegal telephone calls?

Maybe it's a matter of who is enforcing those laws. Maybe if we put it on the police to track down telemarketers instead of the FTC, we'd start seeing headlines like "Suspected telemarketers accuse Chicago cops of brutality."

Perhaps law enforcement has been less successful at the task of making sure you can't smoke pot. Sure, I'm just saying, I've never had a pot dealer wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me "This is your second notice that your stash of pot is about to expire..."

Re:It's One of Those Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525402)

Maybe it's a matter of who is enforcing those laws. Maybe if we put it on the police to track down telemarketers instead of the FTC, we'd start seeing headlines like "Suspected telemarketers accuse Chicago cops of brutality."

I think I read that Onion article, was it the one where below that it read "Policemen return home to a hero's welcome, acquitted instantly sans trial" ?

Re:It's One of Those Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525526)

I've never had a pot dealer wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me "This is your second notice that your stash of pot is about to expire..."

Hilarious, made my day

Re:It's One of Those Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32524600)

Eh, why waste a good building and existing phone/network infrastructure?

Re:It's One of Those Days (5, Informative)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524650)

FTC Bombs Massive Robocall Operation

It's one of those days when you wish the headlines were literal in meaning. I mean, surely the FTC could pull some strings and a few cluster bombs could go "missing" en route to Iraq ...

You know that's not such a bad idea as I actually worked for an telemarketing outfit that operated outside FTC regulations. I only lasted a few weeks but eventually I was put in charge web based control of the auto-dialer.

It started with 'debt consolidation' but during my few weeks there it shifted into Auto Warranties and DirectTV as well.

During orientation we were told how they reset the internal do not call list every few weeks, and they justified it by stating by then they might need whatever shady wares were being pedaled.

Either way there were very savy about what they were up to, they were aware of every rule and regulation and loophole as well as the effort required to track down responsible parties. Calling cell phones, people on the DNC list, people in states where you weren't legally allowed to make automated calls too.

The web based cpanel for the autodialer was out of new zealand (where the actual lines making the calls were, I'll never know), the actual companies responsible for implementation for whatever was sold never had much more than a TX phone number most of the time and here we were in Idaho. The best part is the place is right down the street from where I live now, debated on contacting the state AG but this was two years ago by now they're probably selling star names or some other inane shit by now.

Re:It's One of Those Days (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524704)

No, actually, you should bring it up.

There's apparently good money in selling telemarketers. Or so I've heard.

Re:It's One of Those Days (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524714)

What a Freudan slip... SUING. I meant SUING.

Re:It's One of Those Days (2, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525710)

I liked it better when you said selling. You can grind them into a fine pink powder to make Torgo's Executive Powder [wikipedia.org] , it has a thousand uses!

Death, not just for infidels anymore... (3, Insightful)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525072)

Seriously can these people be executed already? I am not talking about the poor jerk getting paid minimum wage to do these soul sucking jobs, but the evil bastards behind these types of things.

Good for the FTC actually doing something about it, most times these guys are so adept at being wriggling bottom feeders that they can slip through every loophole and just keep on doing what they are doing, or once they get shut down, they just start up another one.

I know I have gotten to the point that even on my cell phone, it really just limits my phone usage, as I refuse to answer 1-800, 1-866, or any "unknown" callers. I figure if it is a legit call, and it is important, they can leave a message, and I can decide to return the call or not.

I say line them all up against a wall with all the "businessmen" who have stolen over a million bucks in ponzi schemes and have them all shot. No club fed for you. That goes for all those lying TV infomercials as well. It disgusts me that these people prey on others seemingly without any punishment.

Just thinking about this stuff fills me with rage.

Re:It's One of Those Days (1)

Target Drone (546651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525226)

So you knew about the shady calling practices but how do you know it wasn't a total scam. They could have lied to you and said that the DirectTV equipment was being shipped from another city when in fact nothing was being sent. Then given you a bogus 1-800 phone number to give out to customers to call in case they have any problems.

Government intervention needed? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32524744)

Ridiculous. Do we still have a free market here? Do we still have free speech? I don't need some nanny state protecting me from... Oh Noes! speech. We don't need the government to protect us from telemarketers, the free market would do a great job of that if the government just got out of the way.

Re:Government intervention needed? (1)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524832)

You're probably being sarcastic... but you'd get the same situation we have today with email spam if there was no regulation.

Re:Government intervention needed? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524888)

Please good sir, explain to me HOW ON EARTH we could get LESS Telemarketers if the government did NOTHING to stop them?

The Free Market does not apply to telemarketting. Telemarketting is not consumers deciding on the market, its robots tieing up phone lines in the hopes to squeeze a credit card number out of you.

And there are A LOT of them which are just scams, like the one in the article.

If you can find any explanation on how Less government involvement would perpetuate to less telemarketting, I will subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Government intervention needed? (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525166)

Well... let's just assume that in this dreamworld where telemarketers get free reign, we, too, can do whatever we please. If that means pairing up some PIs, a bountyhunter outfit, and maybe a few disgruntled ex-military types who were drummed out of army in short order for cutting off the ears and making a necklace out of them and bringing this magical group together to hunt down these telemarketers.

Management would be preferred, of course, but if they grab some patsy phone jocky and stick a gun barrel in his nose, well, I'm sure that'd help increase their attrition rate a bit more.

Oh, and there'd be the requisite nerdy and/or butch chick and the hacker dude to assist the grizzled ex-cop PIs.

Will someone make my movie already?

"They just called the wrong man. He's got the motivation find them. He's got the resources to strike back. And most importantly, they called during dinner.

This summer, they will hear you now! *Ka-pow! Ka-plooey! Pewpew! Insert bullet whizzes here*"

Re:Government intervention needed? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525894)

Please good sir, explain to me HOW ON EARTH we could get LESS Telemarketers if the government did NOTHING to stop them?
Stop them? No, the problem is too much regulation stopping us. If, for example, it was legal to shoot someone who stole 1 minute of cell phone time from you, then the problem would very quickly go away.

Re:Government intervention needed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32526404)

It works because when you're a libertarian you don't have to apply the normal rules of logic. You live in delusionville where the invisible hand isn't pickpocketing you but in fact just checking you have lots of money in your wallet. These people are terminally stupid.

Re:It's One of Those Days (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524882)

The trouble is that the poor saps who work at these sorts of places are rarely the people really responsible for the scuzzy business practices. As a general rule, the grunts in those sorts of organizations are people desperate for work, any kind of work, and are aware that what they're doing is scuzzy but at the same time need to feed themselves and their families. Now, if you could drop a bomb that only hit the upper management who's making the big bucks off of these scuzzy business practices, I'd be all for it. But otherwise, you're mostly punishing decent folks trying to make a living.

That's also the reason I generally don't hate on telemarketers. If they could find other work, most of 'em would take it.

Re:It's One of Those Days (5, Informative)

berzerke (319205) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524992)

I think the following quote sums it up nicely.

I would be more embarrassed to admit to someone that I worked as a telemarketer than I would be to admit that I was a drug dealer. There are some people who LIKE drugs. Nobody likes a telemarketer. -- Mike Helan

Re:It's One of Those Days (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32526378)

and are aware that what they're doing is scuzzy

're mostly punishing decent folks trying to make a living.

Sorry, decent folks don't help scuzzy businesses.

Re:It's One of Those Days (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525074)

Perhaps they could borrow one of the Confederate^WCommemorative Air Force's planes. I'd volunteer for that mission.

Re:It's One of Those Days (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525208)

This kind of changes the meaning of...

Nato warns of strike against cyber attackers [timesonline.co.uk]

I suppose telemarketing and attempting to sell fake products is now considered an attack

Makes sense, since the whole notion of "cyber war" is really kind of fuzzy.

Including the definition of what "an attack" is or means.

By bombing them in the physical world, they avoid any ambiguity... the US is obviously at war with telemarketers.

Now, my next question is.... since when did the FTC's duties include use of munitions, and since when did they have authority to go out on their own and start bombing companie headquarters?

I guess the law that provides for it must be hidden somewhere deep in the pages of the health care bill, or some other secret law congress passed some time ago..

Re:It's One of Those Days (2, Insightful)

Jeprey (1596319) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526348)

I was thinking instead: "We'll nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

Worthless?!? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524594)

Wait! Does this mean my Turnip Twaddlers aren't really up to snuff?!?

Dang, next they'll be telling me I can't turn off the Background Image on Google, so I have to shift back to AltaVista...

Re:Worthless?!? (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526060)

However, it's trivial to make a solid white image 800x600.

Why so long? (1)

RedACE7500 (904963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524606)

Why does it take so long for them to shut these things down?

Re:Why so long? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524958)

How do they find workers for this, and why are the workers not turning in the company?

I know it may be hard to find work in some parts of the country, but damn get some morals.

I would support jail time for all involved from top to bottom. Maybe just a month or so for those at the bottom, but at least something, and of course years for those at the top.

Re: Why so long? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525068)

I would support jail time for all involved from top to bottom. Maybe just a month or so for those at the bottom,

Unless they were a whistleblower; then I'd give them a reward.

Re:Why so long? (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525958)

I would support jail time for all involved from top to bottom. Maybe just a month or so for those at the bottom, but at least something, and of course years for those at the top.
Jail time is a little harsh. I have to pay for that. What did I do? Now if you make them pay their own way through jail, then I am all for it. Also, I would be willing to buy the bullets.

I got several of these calls (3, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524686)

I returned one of them (they give you a number to call) and asked why my cell was getting spammed. The "professional" got very abusive.

I immediately filed a report. I am glad something actually happens after that. Restores a smidgen of faith in government.

It will restore more if they castrate everyone involved in this scheme.

Re:I got several of these calls (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524796)

I returned one of them (they give you a number to call) and asked why my cell was getting spammed. The "professional" got very abusive.

I immediately filed a report. I am glad something actually happens after that. Restores a smidgen of faith in government.

It will restore more if they castrate everyone involved in this scheme.

Sadly, government moves very, very slowly. Usually the victims are long gone and very jaded in government by the time action has taken place.

It like, doth peeve me, like, totally forsooth and verily. I have a phone, I have email and I have a browser. Each one is attacked by various vermin in their own way. It's not hard to find. Why do years go by before people like Ralsky and SBN get shut down? Are they doing all the legwork through Jack Webb with a Ouija Board or seance?

Re:I got several of these calls (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524944)

I love it when people who have no idea on what has to be involved in these investigations assume everyone moves slow~

Arrogance of ignorance at it's best.

Re:I got several of these calls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525428)

exactly. the layers involved, the bureaucracy, THE PAPERWORK in multiples of sextuplicate.

imagine the lines people wait to get a drivers license photo, and multiply that by a million, you'll get an idea of what it takes a herd of government employees to grab the low hanging fruit.

i'd have the government punch you in the face, but my great grand children would be dead by the time they came to your house to make you pick up your face.

and on the oddball occasion they do something relatively speedy, or somewhat correct, it COSTS A FRIGGIN FORTUNE.

Re:I got several of these calls (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525694)

I love it when people who have no idea on what has to be involved in these investigations assume everyone moves slow~

Arrogance of ignorance at it's best.

And with this sort of reply were are no closer to any illumination of the subject or rigors.

Investigation of something which happened is one thing, which requires reassembling the pieces, cooperations between divisions, aggregating the facts and weighing what to move on.

But when something is happening, well, like the man being robbed on the sidewalk, the information is there. There's this wonderful information system in Northern Virginia which knows just about everything which has traveled over IP. If a kidnapper called up on a disposable cell phone demanding ransom the traffic could be researched within hours and the location of the phone pin-pointed at the time of the call. Thank George W. Bush for that system.

Now we have, what appears less urgent crime and investigations drag out, while the crime continues. I can't accept it takes months for someone to look at the laws and mounting complaints, as evidence, and then move on it. If there were a whiff that this outfit were connected to Al Qaeda for fundraising they'd have been shut down pronto.

Clearly this investigation wasn't given much priority.

Re:I got several of these calls (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525986)

I have been getting several calls a day autodialing (which is illegal) my cell phone (which is illegal). I have already had them remove my number about a dozen times. They have not called back from the same number, but there are millions of numbers out there and I don't have millions of minutes. I get more worked up every time I get a call. I am very close to getting belligerent and demanding to know where they got my cell phone number and to whom to send the court summons.

I remember them (5, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524740)

I remember them. They called me quite a bit last year. It got to the point I started trying to figure out who they were.

They would call and tell me my car warranty was about to expire. I thanked one of them and asked which of my two cars had the warranty problem... and the guy couldn't answer and hung up.

The answer, of course, is that I don't have any cars/warranties in my name. Whatever he said would have been wrong, but I knew that.

I reported them a couple of times to the FCC.

Re:I remember them (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524980)

The answer, of course, is that I don't have any cars/warranties in my name. Whatever he said would have been wrong, but I knew that.

Yes, the magic of this style of mass marketing is that calling many people is cheap and once in a while you get lucky. You call random people with the byline "I'm calling you about your xxx that is yyy". Most of them don't own an xxx, or yyy is wrong for them, and they ignore you. But a few people will match the precise situation you're angling for. They will then assume that you know about their particular situation and want to help with it, making them more likely to listen to whatever you are selling.

Re: I remember them (4, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525026)

They would call and tell me my car warranty was about to expire. I thanked one of them and asked which of my two cars had the warranty problem... and the guy couldn't answer and hung up.

When robocalls get a hit there is a 2-3 second delay while they connect you to a salesjerk. You almost never get this delay when it's a human caller; they respond to your hello at normal conversational reaction time.

So when I'm feeling surly I just lie the (landline) phone down when I hear the pause, rather than hanging up. I figure if they're willing to waste my time I might as well waste theirs.

I also read somewhere that robocalling software remembers useless numbers and skips over them, so I turned off my answering machine when I was going to be away from the phone for a couple of weeks, and sure 'nough, I get a lot less telespam than I used to.

Re: I remember them (4, Interesting)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525502)

http://www.xs4all.nl/~egbg/counterscript.html can be fun to try if you have some time to waste.

A trick I've used with "success" is to be very interested but need to nip out for a second. Something like "ooh yes, I've been looking for a new mobile phone deal, could you hold while I go turn the pans off in the kitchen?". Don't be too eager or they'll smell a rat. Once you have them waiting, nip off and do something else for a while. I've had cold callers wait for my return (according to my phone's call log) for ten minutes or more before now.

Want to get rid of them a little more quickly? Try answering with something like "Hello, you are through to the North Yorkshire Emergency Response Centre, what is your current location?" and role-play from there as much as is needed. They usually appologise and ring off in short order. If tey don't ramp it up with "this is an emergency number, you could be endangering lives by holding it open". Obviously don't do this on a line you get business calls on as you have to jump in before knowing who is calling for it to be convincing - my home landline only exists so I can get ADSL based internet down the line, so I know that any call I get down there is a junk call (everyone else calls my mobile).

Re: I remember them (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526110)

I used to have a separate line for a modem and would answer any calls on it "Wrong number"

Re:I remember them (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525386)

I too was getting the robocaller, but was actually impressed with their efficiency. The one time I remained on the line long enough to talk to someone, all I heard was "Hello (click)" and the line went dead.

They're so efficient they knew just from me breathing rate that I bike everwhere and had no car, so they didn't waste any more of my time!

Either that, or they were so fsking retarded that they couldn't actually work the phones properly.

Re:I remember them (2, Funny)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525560)

I made a game of it...see how long I could keep them on the line. Ficticious name, correct street/fake number, fake car. Go through 3 levels of sales people..."And who should I write down for my records for the electronic check?" they give methe company name (supposedly).
"Of course, you know that you will never ever get any money from me, and the only reason I'm still talking to you is because I'm bored, and so you don't bother someone else at dinnertime."

35 minutes was my record.

Simple solution (3, Informative)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524760)

I have one phone (mobile) and I use Google Voice for all calls.

If I get a call and don't recognize the number or if caller ID is blocked then I don't answer.

If they leave a voicemail I will decide if it is someone I want to talk to or not. If the answer is yes I add them to the address book and call them back. If the answer is no I mark the number as spam and never get bother by it ever again.

Re:Simple solution (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524844)

They would call and tell me my car warranty was about to expire. I thanked one of them and asked which of my two cars had the warranty problem... and the guy couldn't answer and hung up.

They were even dialing Canadian numbers, and have called me numerous times. I hope the bastards get some meaningful legal consequences from this.

Legal telemarketers are annoying enough. Scammers on a massive scale is a bloody nuisance. How it took so long to stop this is amazing.

Re:Simple solution (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524902)

Wow, Epic fail on my behalf.

I actually quoted text from a different poster (the one I intended to respond to) and replied to you.

Today, I am apparently stupider than usual. :-P

Re:Simple solution (1)

Bigbutt (65939) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525032)

Talking to telemarketers will do that to you.

[John]

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32524938)

For some of us letting a potential client deal with google voice is not a very good option. "Bombing" these people would sound like a much better metaphor if there were not so much actual bombing going on in the world.

Re:Simple solution (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525106)

For some of us letting a potential client deal with google voice is not a very good option.

How would someone calling you ever know if you are using Google Voice or not? A person calls you and either you answer or it goes to voice mail. Or if you've manually blocked a number they get the "this number is no longer in service" message.

Re: Simple solution (3, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524960)

I have one phone (mobile) and I use Google Voice for all calls.

If I get a call and don't recognize the number or if caller ID is blocked then I don't answer.

If they leave a voicemail I will decide if it is someone I want to talk to or not. If the answer is yes I add them to the address book and call them back. If the answer is no I mark the number as spam and never get bother by it ever again.

I got a cell phone for emergency use, have never given out the phone number or made a call on it, but I get calls and texts all the time.

Now I just delete off the phone and let the stuff in the voice box rot - the UI makes it too much trouble to delete messages.

Back when I first got it and listened to some of the messages in the voice box, about half of them were prefixed with a recording saying that the call was coming from the state pen. (Especially on holidays - do they get extra phone time or something?) So I wonder if I got a number that formerly belonged to a delivery boy, or if inmates just call random numbers hoping to start some sh*t with someone.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525016)

My old LG phone (trac, I think) had a similar auto reject feature. I can enter those spam phone numbers in the reject list and it never rings but goes straight to voicemail. I wish my current Motorola had this feature (among others that was on my LG). I don't understand why features like auto reject are not more common.

Just Keep In Mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525356)

In case of an emergency, most people* will likely keep redialing instead of leave a voice mail.

*not base on any scientific study.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525532)

I use call/sms filtering software on my now obsolete winmo phone (and google voice for calling anything seemingly shady). :)

sad news (4, Funny)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32524908)

Now I won't have anybody calling me.... :-(

Re:sad news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525300)

Now I won't have anybody calling me.... :-(

What's your phone number? I'll call you.

Re:sad news (1)

thechemic (1329333) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525420)

LOL...

No worries (1)

TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526014)

Not to worry, the politicians will be soon calling to tell you who you should be voting for. By the way, the Tea Party Patriots [teapartypatriots.org] are an excellent choice for all your voting needs. Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, Free Market, and No Thinking Required! It is the low stress alternative to researching and understanding those complicated issues!

They wouldn't sell me an extended warranty! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32524928)

"Ooh, yes, I'd LOVE to have an extended warranty"
"Great! What kind of car do you have?"
"96 Ford mustang. It only has about 80,000 miles, but has a different color door as it was wrapped around a tree by the previous owner, the previous owner never changed the brakes in the 6 years he had the car, and ummm, oh yeah, a couple of nuts rusted through and the front left tire just fell off last week while I was parking it."
*CLICK*

I waste the marketers time (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525028)

When I have the time I talk to the yahoos to tie up their resources and never violate rule number one with phone sales.

Safer phone purchases list.
Post this list by your phone.

#1 Never buy from anyone who called you.
#2 Research any product and vendor before you buy anything.
#3 Comparison shop online.
#3 Place an order only when #1, #2 and #3 is completed.

Re:I waste the marketers time (1)

Labcoat Samurai (1517479) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526268)

When I have the time I talk to the yahoos to tie up their resources and never violate rule number one with phone sales.

Safer phone purchases list. Post this list by your phone.

#1 Never buy from anyone who called you. #2 Research any product and vendor before you buy anything. #3 Comparison shop online. #3 Place an order only when #1, #2 and #3 is completed.

Both number 3s? You'll never purchase anything! Genius!

What About the RespOrgs? (3, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525066)

The system for toll-free numbers (which are usually the source and return numbers for this crap) is based on "Responsible Organizations" selling toll-free numbers and service to people or companies. The RespOrgs are in no way required to share information on who is paying for what number with anyone, anytime, anywhere, for any reason (the only exception if a warrant is issued). By the time any kind of interest is expressed in the identity behind a toll-free number, the RespOrg who sold it has already told the owner - who responds by moving the same number to a different RespOrg. From there the game of whack-a-mole continues, in a way not all that different from how spammers move their domains from one bad registrar to another to avoid revealing their identifying information.

In short, its great that the FTC shut down a robocalling enterprise. However in the grand scheme of robocalling and spam-calling, the action is a knee-jerk reaction that isn't worth much of anything - at least as long as there is no way for consumers to find out who is really harrassing them.

My car is 40 years old... (1)

trailerparkcassanova (469342) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525070)

and they use to call me about the expiring warranty.

Re:My car is 40 years old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525186)

Yeah, and lots of people's cars are 1/2/3/5/7 years old, and meet exactly that requirement.

Annoying you with their fishing expedition doesn't worry them. It's a minor cost, casting the reel for no return.

It's getting the few casts where you get a bite that they make their money.

Re:My car is 40 years old... (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525408)

I was in a classroom once that had a phone on the wall. You wouldn't think that a classroom would have a car, let alone one with a warranty...

Re:My car is 40 years old... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525416)

THIS.

I don't *own* a car and they were calling about my expiring warranty. *facepalm*

Re:My car is 40 years old... (1)

armanox (826486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525724)

I asked them where I should take my Studebaker (didn't really have one, but, it was a fun idea) for warranty service. No response.

what I hate most (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525124)

phone calls pitching worthless extended auto warranties and credit card interest rate-reduction programs.

What I hate most is when a bill collector calls and asks for someone I've never heard of, but has the same surname that I do. They're obviously not doing their homework, just calling anyone with the same last name in hopes of getting lucky.

Re:what I hate most (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525326)

I get those all of the time, for the same guy and his wife. The problem is I live in a very large apartment complex where all of the apartments have the same street address and then are distinguished by apt #. This guy and his wife (whp have the same surname as I) live in the same complex (or at least used to, I met him shortly after I moved in, he was accidentally delivered my mail, which had my apt # on it and he brought it over). The problem is that there are at least two online databases that list me as being related to the guy. The funniestpart is that if you look me up in those databases they list three people as being related to me, him, his wife and my father, who has been dead for over 20 years. They don't list my wife, my mother, my three brothers or either of my sisters (let alone my numerous cousins). Oh yeah, when you look up this guy, they do list my wife as being related to him.
I have a very common name. If you google my name, you do not find anything about me for over 25 pages (that's all the further I ever looked), even if you include the state. However, if you google my wife's name, you come up with three people in the USA(including my wife). This surprised me since our surname is one of the most common in the U.S.

Re:what I hate most (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526194)

More likely this guy has a completely different name, borrowed some of your mail to get the details, and is now using your name to buy stuff.

Re:what I hate most (4, Interesting)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32526072)

You're describing the recent trend of Debt Collection Scam. Two of the worst are Allied Interstate and NCO Financial. Now truth be told, those two companies probably do have some legitimate business in collections, but just do a Google search on their company names. Their track record is horrible, and abuse of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is rampant. It doesn't matter if you owe or not to them, as they're not interested in playing fair -- they are scammers through and through. Got your number on "Do Not Call" registry? They don't care. They're just like spammers looking for that one sucker out of thousands that will pay something they don't owe, and thus, validate their raison d'etre.

In my case, somehow both have gotten a hold of my cell phone number, and are calling at least 1-2x per week. It's always an automated dialer, leaving me a message to call them back at so-and-so number. Never, ever is there a live person, either if I pick up right away, or let it go to voicemail.

Here's the kicker though -- when they first started, I got worried that I might have been the victim of identity theft, so I pulled all 3 of my credit reports. All 3 are clean as a whistle and have been for years, and there are no unexpected accounts or credit inquiries. So, as mentioned above, they're trolling for suckers, and seeing who will return the call and then will harass the caller into paying something they don't owe.

The scambusters website has a lot more good information on this growing scam. Go here --> http://www.scambusters.org/debt.html [scambusters.org]

FWIW -- I've recently filed complaints with the FTC. We'll see where that goes.

i've been screwing with these people.... (4, Funny)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525128)

i just got my first home phone in a long time through a package deal with time warner (cheaper to get it than not get it...), anyways, i hadn't been exposed to telemarketing in a while, so it's a fun new thing for me.

every call they made showed on the caller id as "SBN Peripherals", so at least they weren't trying to spoof that. i usually got the credit card rate reduction, or claims that i won a cruise. the funny part is i have no credit card debt.... i have no debt of any kind.... so i just talk in the crank yankers voice and demand "i want the lowest rate, lady".... over and over. they'll read their script for 4 responses and then hang up. i'm pretty sure that's where things get illegal... you can't just call me and hang up. I WANT THE LOWEST RATE!#^!&#)!

screw you, SBN. you call me = i waste your time.

Re:i've been screwing with these people.... (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525422)

My favorite are the automated messages that give you an opportunity to leave your name and number if you are interested. I always leave a fake name that is just plausible enough not to catch their attention, but strange enough for me to remember it when I hear it. Then when they call back and ask for that name, I say, "Oh you just missed him. He stepped out and should be back in 15 minutes." The second time I use some excuse as to why he won't be available for about half an hour. If they call a third time, I give some reason why he won't be able to talk to them until the following day. I've never gotten a fourth call, but if I did I would probably start overat number one.
If they are going to take up my time by autocalling me, I'm going to take up their time as much as I can.

Re:i've been screwing with these people.... (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525760)

If they are going to take up my time by autocalling me, I'm going to take up their time as much as I can.

keep fighting the good fight, homie.

UGH! (2, Interesting)

Xacid (560407) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525302)

I actually got one of those damned calls today. I went ahead and pressed 9 to talk to a real human about "Lowing my Credit Card Rates". My first question "What is the name of your company?" "Asdfsdlkfsd and sdfsdlkjfls working for Visa and Mastercard" is pretty much all I heard. I ask her to repeat it and she simply says "Have a nice day" then hangs up! The goal was to get them to remove me from their list.

Looked up the number and it sounds like it might be a number Skype is using to route calls. (615-724-7999). Talked to ATT (my carrier) and asked if there was any way to trace the origin of that call but that was a fruitless search.

Anyone out there having better luck about being proactive towards putting an end to this nonsense? I don't want their services or their good and I sure as hell don't want to give them any of my time.

Re:UGH! (2, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525556)

Wait, what?!? You reached a human being at AT&T?

OK, now you've got 0 credibility.

Cool - I was wondering why my phone stopped Ringin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525320)

I've noticed a sharp decline in the number of random crank/solicitation that come through - thank you, nice to see government doing something right for a moment or two.

Just keep them hoping (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525496)

I usually string them out as long as I can. I put the phone on speaker, or just set it on the counter, and keep them going with "Yeah, wait could you repeat that, That sounds interesting, could you tell me a bit more about that?"

Once I went on like that and just hung up mid conversation, the guy called me back. I had him going for 30 minutes before I finished cooking dinner and said "Snip corp glork rando Fluuuuu" (Or as close to that Carlin line as I can remember).

I figure that I'm accomplishing several things:

1. Said sales-droid's numbers go down
2. They are paying for the call.
3. Most importanly, while that guy is on the line, he can't be bothering anyone else.

Owner of the operation (5, Informative)

crow_t_robot (528562) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525516)

Apparently, the owner of the operation here in the US ( Fereidoun "Fred" Khalilian ) is not just a sleezebag in business but in real life too:

http://www.persianhub.org/off-topic-free-talk-published/143955-video-fereidoun-khalilian-accused-sexual-abuse.html [persianhub.org]

"Paris Hilton's former business partner in Orlando's Club Paris has a history of accusations of sexual misconduct or rape. The Orlando Sentinel has uncovered at least three other incidents in which women claim that Fereidoun "Fred" Khalilian sexually abused them. In 2005, a passerby called police to report that Khalilian tried to rape a woman outside the club. The alleged victim turned out to be Khalilian's girlfriend at the time, Heather Dodt. The entrepreneur was not arrested at the scene, after he claimed he had diplomatic immunity. "I'm a diplomat. You can't arrest me. I own Club Paris," the police report states. After investigating, police discovered he didn't have immunity and filed a misdemeanor battery charge. The case has not yet gone to trial. Meanwhile, TMZ dug up some video showing "Fred" at work in the club. Fred Khalilian Also in 2005, a 21-year-old employee of the club told police that Khalilian invited her to his home, where he allegedly pulled down her pants and had sex with her. The victim says she didn't immediately call cops because she was fearful of losing her job. Weeks later, she says Khalilian punched her in the face, twice, after keeping her at the nightclub after closing. She then filed a police report against him. It's not yet known how this case was resolved. In another incident, a female patron at Club Paris attacked Khalilian after thinking he sexually fondled her from behind while she was dancing on the stage, but an investigation failed to pinpoint Khalilian as the molester. The club owner was arrested yesterday on charges of battery, sexual battery and false imprisonment, stemming from allegations made by a 20-something woman, who says that he raped her at his home last Friday. "Fred" was released last night after posting a $6,000 bond. Video: TMZ: Video Player"

Lucky it wasn't the FCC (1)

GameMaster (148118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525540)

They're just lucky it wasn't the FCC. They'd have used on of their destroyers to "drop the hammer" on their asses.

If only the title were true! (1)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525622)

An F-16 with laser-guided bombs would be highly effective AND set a great example.

After only 370 million! (3, Funny)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 4 years ago | (#32525668)

I'm glad to see it takes only 370 million illegal phone calls to get the FTC interested. The Do Not Call list works!

Anathema (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32525682)

The "it's the only job around" is a complete cop-out. People are responsible for their own actions. Even if you feel you have no choice but to work as a telemarketer, the truth is that you do in fact have choices. You mentally preclude them as "too tough" or unappealing, but they do exist; telemarketers are just lazy.

People who choose to make a career out of preying upon the elderly and unfit are not only cruel and unethical, but sociopaths as well. There is no sane person who thinks that scamming someone is an acceptable thing to do. We can bring it down to a matter of sanity and insanity, where a sane person would reject becoming a telemarketer in favor of other, less harmful options, and an insane person would see no harm to what they are doing.

At the end of the day, there is no ethical excuse for harassing and scamming people.

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