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Alex Goldman's Call Center Scam

After receiving a phone call from someone claiming to be from Apple, Alex quickly realizes it's a scam

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Full Transcript

[00:00:00] HOST:
Coming up on this episode, of AARP's Perfect Scam.

[00:00:04] It looks
like I see your IP address has been compromised from other countries in the
last two days. I like to think is that we need to have the computer so we can
rectify this kind of issues. Is that possible we can access the computer,

[00:00:16] Yeah, I'm
standing right in front, I'm sitting right in front of it. Just to be clear,
you guys are from Apple.

[00:00:21] Yes, sir,
I'm a certified technician to support Apple, that's right.

[00:00:23] HOST:
Imagine turning the tables on a scammer, showing up in their workplace,
confronting them face to face. A lot of us have probably had the thought,
feeling so frustrated by a stranger leaving cryptic messages, asking for
account numbers and warning of late payments. What would it be like to meet
them in person? What would you say? Today we're going to share the story of
another podcast host who did just that. But before we get into all that, I'm
here with AARP's Fraud Watch Network Ambassador. Frank, this story focuses on a
call center in India. We know they can be pretty much anywhere in the world,
but why are so many call centers located in India?

[00:00:57] Frank
Abagnale: Well, first of all call centers in India are popular, even with
legitimate companies because it's so cheap to hire people to come to work.
Unfortunately, that's a country with a lot of poor people and some of them are
very educated, but they can't find a job, so they're a great source of using
for a call center to talk on the phone; they speak English very well, and they're
smart enough to put across whatever message it is they need to put across, but
unfortunately sometimes they're selling you something that's non-existent or
fraud and sometimes they're actually working to do something good.

[00:01:31] HOST: Are
there other parts of the globe where call centers are springing up or are we
chasing call centers here...

[00:01:37] Frank
Abagnale: No, there's call centers like in Hong Kong, Malaysia, places like
that. They're all over the world, including right here in the United States,
and Florida's a great place for a lot of these boiler rooms and call centers,
New York. So it's just wherever there's people and somebody has an idea and you
get some phones and you make some calls or receive some calls.

[00:01:55] HOST: And
I assume that the U.S. doesn't really have jurisdiction over a call center say
in India. How does that work?

[00:02:01] Frank
Abagnale: No, that's the problem. That's the problem in general today with
crime is that it's become so global, so the criminal committing the crime, like
in that case is in India, thousands of miles away. Now we do through Interpol
have relationships. The FBI has 126 field agent offices around the world, so
they actually have an office in Beijing, they have an office in Italy. They have
offices, but they're all at the embassy, and that FBI agent is attaché to the
embassy. Obviously, he works with the local police in that city to have a
relationship. That's why he or she is the agent there. So how that's supposed
to work is if we feel there's a problem going on in India, that agent at the
embassy in India can then go with the Chief of Police or whoever his contact or
relationship is with the Indian authorities to try and see if they can either
stop it, arrest the person or do something like that, but it's very difficult
to get that to work because there's so many things going on in the world, and
of course, the India police, they're only worried about what's happening to
people in India, not to people in the United States and vice versa, but we try
to do that.

[00:03:13] HOST:
Well, so let's shift into the story, and as we were doing research for the
show, one of our producers came across this other podcast that had a really
amazing story. Alex Goldman is the host of the Reply All Podcast, and the
episode we discovered follows Alex on a odyssey from the Reply All studios to
the streets of India, and it starts with just a phone call. But you'll soon
learn that this phone scammer is making a terrible mistake.

[00:03:36] HOST:
First of all, thanks for joining us. It's really, it's great to have you on.

[00:03:39] Alex: My

[00:03:40] HOST: Tell
us when you first realized this might be a topic for your podcast? Were you
thinking about doing an episode on call centers or scams?

[00:03:46] Alex: Oh,
absolutely not. I was working on another episode. We were in the studio
recording. I got a 1-800, I got a phone call from a 1-800 number, and it was
just a, and it, when I picked it up there was sort of a robo call that said
your I-card may be compromised, please don't, we recommend you don't use your
computer until you call this number. Please call blah, blah, blah. And it was a
1-800 number. And right away it set off alarm bells for me because it sounded,
because I don't think that Apple usually makes phone calls like that. But I
called this 1-800 number, and I got a gentleman who identified himself as Alex,
and he told me that their servers, that Apple's servers had detected my account
being accessed from other parts of the world.

[00:04:38] HOST: And
at this point, you had, you were, I'm trying to remember back to that first
episode, but you were recording as you called back, right?

[00:04:45] Alex:
Yeah, since it seemed suspicious to me, and I was sitting in the studio with a
friend, with one of my producers, we decided why not record it? And so we got a
guy who told us, you know, told me all this stuff, and I told him, hey, I think
this is a scam. I've looked up your 1-800 number, I can't find it on the
internet anywhere, and then he proceeded to get very strange.

[00:05:09] HOST: So
you start to engage with him and say, hey, this seems like a scam, and then can
you reveal like, I don't want to reveal everything, like I said, but can you
tell us, it's kind of a chilling moment when he says to you, we are what he

[00:05:21] Alex:
Yeah, so I say to him, "Who are you?" at one point. I say, "I've
looked up this 1-800 number, I don't see any information tying this number to
Apple. Who are you?" And he says, "We are anonymous, we are Legion,
expect us. We demolishing all your social (inaudible)." "All of my,
me personally? or like..." "Yes, we have (inaudible) on the internet,
we have some porn sites displaying some sort of child porn." And then he
proceeds to tell that my social media accounts have been compromised by this
company, that he's sending the police to come after me and arrest me for child
pornography they've planted on my computer, and then he was going to leak my
personal details online, um, all kinds of sort of explicitly threatening stuff.

[00:06:19] HOST:
Yeah, I'm, and I was riding along in my car listening to this, and up until
that moment it was a, it was an interesting idea. We're engaged in this topic
obviously and then when he says, we are anonymous, I really actually did get a
little chill. Tell us what was going through your mind at that moment when he
started saying all this stuff.

[00:06:34] Alex:
Well, it was funny because I was in the, I was in the studio with, again with
Damiano Marchetti, one of our producers, and he had his hand over his mouth and
he was like horrified, he was totally terrified. I have the advantage of having
spent five years in my previous life as a network administrator, so I have a
certain amount of understanding of computers that I don't think sort of the
general population does, and I knew what he was saying, which was kind of not
true. And I found myself less threatened by him and more curious, you know what
are these people doing? What is their scam? What, what are they trying to sell
me and how does their scam work? So, I just started asking him questions and
surprisingly, since I wasn't cowed by his threats, he seemed somewhat open to
talk about them.

[00:07:27] HOST: And
then he sort of got into, well I mean not just sort of. You guys got into a
sort of back and forth about his, what he was trying to do and then about
Americans in general and maybe his views of why he felt comfortable doing what
he does.

[00:07:41] Alex:
Yeah, I mean I think, I spoke to a lot of people at this particular call center
because I started calling them back, you know probably once a day for about
three months. And I think the general sentiment, I think the general sentiment,
or at least the sentiment as it was explained to me by the people who work
there is, you know, the average, I think the average one person
single-household income in New Delhi, which is a very wealthy part or a very
urban part of, of India, is like 13, $14,000, like it's a very small amount.
These are people who are living on very little money and view America, I'm not
sure how incorrectly, as a place where people have, you know, incomes that,
incomes to, to burn. And so, they don't feel that, I think that the person that
I talked to the first time didn't have a ton of qualms about doing this kind of

[00:08:44] Alex:
"Don't you feel bad at all about scamming people who don't know anything
about computers?" "No, I don't." "Why not?" "Why
would I?" "Because..." "You guys have a lot of money.
That's why we (inaudible)." "Who is you guys? Who are you talking
about?" "Like the people we scam." "But how do you know how
much money I have?" "We guess them, like we make a judgment, like
somebody that works here, or having a very good name, we say, they all, they must
be having a good amount of money." Wait. People, the amount of money
someone has isn't based on what their name is." At the same time, that
same desperation, that same lack of income that affects these people often
means that the people who are actually working the phones in these call centers
end up doing it because they have no other way to make a living. They are
sometimes tricked into getting these jobs, they are often intimidated by their
supervisors into staying in these jobs, and I think it's a pretty tough
situation all around.

[00:09:44] HOST:
Yeah, I mean that's the thing you start to get from, from this episode and the
follow-up episode when I'll reveal, if that's alright, you actually go to India
and meet the first guy you talked to, Alex. But you get a sense of like, okay,
there, there's something going on here, there's a reason why this is such a
prevalent thing going on, there's people that are making a little bit of money
and, and maybe it's a way to sort of you know, get food on the table.

[00:10:07] Alex:
Well, you know, I think that this situation, I think it's similar to a lot of
people who come from relatively poor communities in the United States and they
move to a, they move to a big city and they get a job or people who immigrate
from other countries into the United States and get a job. There's a, there's a
situation where people leave the village they come from, in India, go to the
big city, and send money back to keep their families afloat. And the call
center industry in India is massive. It's massive. There's thousands of call
centers in the country.

[00:10:43] HOST: And
is that where, is that where most of the call centers that, that we're getting,
you believe, in terms of what you've been able to learn?

[00:10:50] Alex: You
know, I've been looking into this and until recently that was the case. The
Philippines has actually also developed a very, very robust call center
industry. So, my understanding is that maybe this year or last year the
Philippines surpassed India in terms of the number of people doing call center
work, and honestly, part of that, according to articles that I've read, is
because the call center industry in India is being hollowed out by scammers. I
mean the way that these call centers work, the way that most call centers work
is they start up, they find American companies who need a support line, either
tech support or phone support, and they say, hey, we'll do that work for you.
We'll, we'll, you can outsource that work to us. And the scam, the scam culture
in India has become so prevalent that it is making people not want to use
Indian call centers because for the fear that if someone picks up the phone and
hears an India--, Indian accent, they're just going to hang up.

[00:11:55] HOST:
Yeah, I mean that's like the cliché of call centers, is you get an Indian
accent and you assume it's somebody scamming you.

[00:12:02] Alex:
Right. So, you know, I mean the people that we spoke to that worked at this
call center, they were making 15,000 rupees a month, I think that was the base
salary, and let me just, 15,000 rupees, I'm sorry, I, I remembered this much
better when I was in India, that's $234 a month, so, not a lot.

[00:12:27] HOST: So,
let's go back. You started making calls every day? And, and you, above anyone,
you kind of were trying to reach and get back in touch with, or talking again
to this guy, Alex, Kamal, right, is his name as you've come to learn.

[00:12:42] Alex: Yes.

[00:12:43] Alex:
"Is this the Alex Martin that I talked to a while back? This is Alex
Goldman." "Yeah, this is the same Alex Martin, do you remember
me?" "How's it going, man? I've been trying to get in touch with you
for weeks." "So, what exactly you want now?" "Well, I just
wanted to know how you were doing, first of all. Second of all..."
"Yeah, I'm very good."

[00:13:04] HOST: And
tell us about what the scam was, what did you learn about what they wanted to
do? How were they going to get money from you and then what happened as time
went by with, with your relationship, if I can call it that, with Kamal?

[00:13:14] Alex: So,
the scam, and this is actually a scam that is, this is sort of the, this is the
standard tech support scam. I've seen it across a number of call centers. I
spoke to someone who does internet fraud work for Microsoft, and I spoke to the
Federal Trade Commission; they both describe this exactly the same. The way
that it works is they call someone and say, we're from Microsoft, we're from
Apple, we're from Norton Antivirus, we detected something concerning on your
computer. Can we remotely connect to your computer? And when you say yes,
they'll log into your computer, they will go into some, some part of your
computer that looks, that is unfamiliar to most people. A part that, a part of
your computer that is generally used by technicians to diagnose problems, and
they will enter commands that are very standard diagnostic commands, and then
will say, oh, this looks terrible. It looks as though you have a virus.

[00:14:17] HOST:
Yeah, so it's one of those screens that pops up when you're getting like tech
support and all of a sudden, it's like wow, this is like the inside of my
computer that I'm kind of scared by and don't understand.

[00:14:25] Alex: Yes.
Yes, there, I mean there's a, there is a part of Windows called Event Viewer,
which the normal person has no reason to ever, ever go into, and technicians go
into it to diagnose the computer. And what a, any time a program crashes, or
any time a part of a program can't load, the event, the Event Viewer puts up a
think that says error or warning. But when a person who's trying to defraud you
goes into it, they say, do you see all these errors and warnings? That's
because people are remotely accessing your computer and they're trying to steal
things from you. That is certainly not the case. Likewise, the default on both
Macs and PCs is that there is a firewall program on your computer that is
turned off by default. And when these people go onto your computer, they say,
oh, do you see this? Do you see how the firewall is turned off? That's because,
that's because rogue actors or malware or viruses have gotten into your
computer and shut it off, and now you're vulnerable, even though that's not the
case. So, they give people the feeling that they are vulnerable, and then they
charge them anywhere between about 150 to 400 dollars to fix this nonexistent
problem. And oftentimes promise a year of support on the backend. They'll say,
you know, pay us $300 we'll give you a year of technical support, but then when
you call back, they generally don't help you. The numbers that they give you
tend to go up and down quite a bit, generally you're just paying for them to
fix a nonexistent problem.

[00:16:03] HOST: And
the thing is that you made clear in your episode and anybody who's become a
victim of something like this, is that they're actually really, really good at
what they do. And they're, and they're good at, at making something seem

[00:16:17] Alex:
Absolutely. I mean the reason that this, this tech support scam is sort of
uniform across many, many different call centers that have no relationship with
one another, is that it works. This call center, this call center scam works.
These people have figured out a way to make a lot of money off of this, so it's
just preying on people's insecurities about technology and we're made to feel
insecure about technology all the time. How often do you hear stories about um,
how often do you hear stories about Sony or Microsoft or Skype or whatever,
getting their information hacked and having all your user names and passwords
dumped on the internet? How many times do you hear stories about financial
institutions or credit card companies? They get hacked by hackers, and suddenly
all of your information is out there. You're being contacted by the company and
being told to change your password. I mean, there are legitimate fears about
this kind of thing, and these call center scams prey on those legitimate fears.

[00:17:21] HOST: So
eventually you decided, and I clicked on the next episode and learned that you
were going to India. When did you decide to make the trip to India to find
Kamal or find this call center? Tell us about that decision and what you were
feeling at that point.

[00:17:35] Alex: So,
I continued to call back over and over again to this call center, and
eventually I reached the person who was like the floor manager of the company,
this guy named Kamal, and Kamal essentially said to me, you need to stop
harassing the employees of my company, if you want to talk to someone, talk to
me, and I'll be happy to answer your questions, I mean, to a point. He wasn't
particularly forthcoming, but he answered some of my questions. And again, this
is just, I didn't really know precisely what I was looking for. I wanted to
understand the ecosystem of this call center, how they're making money, what
their relationship is, if any, with people in the United States. How many
people work there, how much money they're making, and so I started calling
Kamal back pretty regularly, and he told me this call center is not quite
making as much money as it used to, we are seeing our business kind of dry up.
I get the impression this call center is going to close pretty soon. And I, as
I continued to call him, he said, "Hey, listen, I quit my job at this
company, I have moved back to my hometown which is a village called
Chandaga," which is about five hours north of New Delhi, and he did say a
couple times, "You know, if you think about, if you're ever thinking about
coming to India, look me up and we can go look, we can go you know do some
sightseeing, we can hang out." And I'm not sure how seriously he meant
that invitation. I'm not sure if he ever expected me to take him up on it. I
don't know what he, why he made that invitation or what he expected from me,
but I said to him, "Okay, listen, I'm coming with one of my producers in a
couple, in a couple weeks. So, let's make some time to hang out." And so,
we did.

[00:19:30] HOST: And
you get to India and again you have a little trouble getting in touch with
Kamal at first, and you're also, part of your goal was to try to find this call
center, right? Did you have a real, like did you know what you were going to do
when you got there, other than like meet Kamal and maybe do some sightseeing
and hopefully dig into the story a little bit more?

[00:19:48] Alex:
Well, you know, we had spoken to a number of people who were former employees
of his company and when we got to India, we tried to reach out to them, and
they all totally ghosted me. I didn't manage to make, I managed to make contact
with a few of them, and then when I tried to actually say, let's meet up, they
would just vanish. So my goal was primarily to see what I could figure out in
India, partially with the work of my, my producer, Damiano Marchetti, and
partially with the help of a reporter from the Hindustan Times named Snigda
Putnum, who we had spoken to in the United States before we got there. And I
mean we were a little rudderless trying to figure out how to, how to, how to
figure out where this call center was, and you know, meet up with Kamal, but we
just sort of forged ahead and tried to do all the reporting we could while we
were there.

[00:20:44] HOST: You
meet Kamal's boss who you weren't necessarily expecting to meet. You describe
it as sort of like meeting The Godfather. Did you ever feel like you might be
in real danger? I started to get the sense that the people at the top of the
organization were actually pretty dangerous.

[00:21:00] Alex: It's
tough to say. What I, what I can tell you is there, what I can tell you is that
it is common for employees of these companies, if they step out of line, if
they communicate with police, if they accuse the, if they accuse the owners of
anything, to get roughed up, to get attacked physically by the, by their
employers. And there was a very clear pattern of sort of soft intimidation
going on. It was a, it was very weird, because not only was there a cultural
gap and to some degree a, a language gap, but we were also talking past each
other in a weird way. We were trying to get at what was going on with this call
center, all the sort of lingering questions we had about it, and we were trying
to soft pedal that, those questions to the people who ran the call center. And
the people who ran the call center, the owner and Kamal, the floor manager,
were trying to in their polite and solicitous way, figure out what exactly we
were up to, because the thing about journalism in the United States is it's not
the same as journalism in a lot of other countries. There are a lot of countries
where when you say, I'm a journalist, and I have questions about you, what
actually, what that actually means is I have collected information about you,
and I want you to pay me not to publish it. So I, I think that at certain
points they thought that I was trying to blackmail them, that I was trying to
maybe get into business with them; they were very unclear about who I was and
what I was up to, and at points, I was very unclear about that about them as

[00:23:06] HOST: And
the crazy thing is, is that throughout the experience it seems like they're
about to close or the call center is closed or they're moving on, or they're
working in construction now. There's a fair amount of like subterfuge going on

[00:23:19] Alex: I
mean one of the things that made this especially difficult as a journalist, is
that I had to listen to these guys tell me stories, just weave stories about
their business and try and pick out the truth out of, I would say that one out of
every 10 things they said was true. And so I had to try and figure out what was
actually the real stuff and what was falsehoods. What was meant to confuse me,
what was meant to intimidate me, and it was really difficult. It was really
difficult to report on, because the two people with intimate knowledge of the
company that I managed to speak to, were consummate liars basically.

[00:24:03] Alex:
"You've lied to me this whole time." "Partly because I lie to
everyone. Doesn't make any difference. You're not a god. What do you want?
What's next? Why you can meet, where you can meet me now?" "I don't
want to meet you right now. You guys know, you guys know where I stand and you
lie to me, so why should I meet you right now? You're not going to tell me the
truth." "What exactly do you want from me? That's what I'm asking
you." "I want you to admit that you guys are scammers and that you
steal money from people." "No, that is not going to happen. No way.
That is not going to happen." "Then I think that we don't have
anything else to talk about."

[00:24:36] HOST:
Eventually you find this elusive call center in India. Can you talk to us about
and there was a whole lot involved about getting there, and I almost hate to
reveal that you find it, but you get there. What was that like finally? You got
to the outside of the door, but you never got inside, right?

[00:24:56] Alex: Yes,
we didn't, but Snigda, the reporter for the Hindustan Times, she is a genius
and the, she actually called them and said, "Hi, I am interested in
interviewing with your company, can I come in for an interview?" So she
managed to get past the front door and described, you know, a very, very big
call center, just a calling floor, 50 something people, and there were floor
managers, like Kamal, Kamal was not there, who were sort of pacing up and down
the call, the calling floor, which I learned from authorities they call the
boiler room, so there were people pacing up and down the boiler room making
sure that people were staying on task, not interacting with their coworkers,
not doing anything untoward, and again, these, these people who were doing this
pacing were pretty muscular guys who were physically intimidating, and Snigda
told us that this is not at all uncommon. That this is the kind of, kind of the
way that the people who work in the call centers are treated. And likewise,
former employees told us that they were absolutely not allowed to speak to
another, one another unless they were on break, and if they did, they would get

[00:26:14] HOST: I
mean this business, do you see it as outright criminal activity, or is it
somewhere in between that and something legit? Are they doing any sort of tech
support anywhere?

[00:26:23] Alex: From
what I understand a lot of these companies do primarily legitimate call center
work, and then maybe they have a team of people in the backroom who are running
these scams to sort of pick up extra or easier cash. So, you know, it's tough,
and likewise, a lot of these call centers, you know they have a team that does
the call center work and then they have a team that processes the payment, and
the team that processes the payment has no idea that what they're processing
payments for are falsehoods. They think that they're just working in a tech
support call center. So, the question of whether it's there's, there's some of
it that's legit is really tough to answer, regardless, people are kept in the
dark for much longer than you would imagine they would be, and people are also
being intimidated into continuing this behavior, even though they may not
necessarily want to.

[00:27:22] HOST: You
mentioned this feeling towards the end of the second episode, but there's a
real feeling of being sort of a sitting duck in today's digital world. Our
information is out there, scammers are a phone call away. There's sort of
something real unsettling about getting these calls once, twice, or more every
week. It seems like, as we research for our show and listening to yours, that
it's, it's almost happening more than ever. Do you think there's like a real
anxiety from any of us that a company phone scams like this?

[00:27:48] Alex: It
feels a lot of times, you're in a situation where there are people who are
contacting you who have knowledge about you, and sometimes an incredible volume
of knowledge about me. My first name is Michael. I have always gone by my
middle name, Alex, and when I spoke to Alex Martin, aka Kamal, the first time,
I said, "Hi, my name's Alex," and he said, "No, your name is
Michael Goldman." And it felt intimidating and kind of infuriating that
someone who's trying to steal money from me knows all this information about
me. And these guys are very hard to find. I mean it wasn't easy for me to
figure out the name of the call center or where they were, it took a lot of
calling back over and over again. So, I think that this whole project was just
to sort of you know, invert that dynamic a little bit. To be a person who, to
be the person who had, who suddenly knew everything about them. And in this
case, I think due to a certain amount of luck and a certain amount of
persistence, I managed to do that, but there are plenty of call centers out
there who are a lot smarter than the folks at this call center, who manage to
cover their tracks better, smaller call centers that can shut down and pop back
up very easily under different names, so this was just, this was just me trying
to make one tiny step to, in the direction of just kind of taking back that
power a little bit.

[00:29:20] HOST: And
what can you tell somebody who's sitting at their computer and not computer
savvy, maybe they email, maybe they do, check a few websites or they do some
banking? But a weird screen pops up, as you said before, be skeptical of phone
calls, but anything on your computer equally so, right?

[00:29:36] Alex:
Absolutely. One, one very interesting thing I actually learned as part of this
story is that in the United States, the primary victims of call center scams
are 25 to 34.

[00:29:52] HOST: Oh,
that's interesting.

[00:29:54] Alex: And
the reason is, because they are not receiving phone calls like I did, but
because they are, they are getting pop-up messages on their computer that say,
"Warning, your computer may be infected, please call this number."
And as Millennials or younger people, they're just sort of trained to believe
what their computer tells them to believe. Your computer says something, you
listen to it. What I can say is, no major phone... no major computer company
will ever call you to tell you you have a virus. So if someone calls you and
says, you might have a virus, please call us to fix this or if they, hey, we've
detected you have a virus, they're scamming you. You can hang up. Likewise, if
you ever receive a robo call where you pick up and it's a, it's a computerized
voice talking, those are against the law. They are against the law. It's
against the law to receive a phone call where the first voice you hear is a
robot or a recording. So you can hang up on those right away as well. If you
see a pop-up ad that has a telephone number in it, telling you to call a
telephone number because of a virus, that is also a scam. You will never ever,
there, no company will ever contact you that way. So you don't have to worry
about those. And I think that actually, the most perilous place for people who
may be less computer savvy or may use their computers primarily for email, is
email, because if someone has compromised your I-cloud or if there's an issue
with your I-cloud or it's being accessed from somewhere else, Apple will send
you an email. So, or Microsoft will send you an email. So, the place to remain
most vigilant, I think, is in your mailbox. Just make sure, before you answer
anything or open any attachments or call any phone numbers related to them,
first of all, don't call any phone numbers, because again, Apple and Microsoft
will not send you an email saying call this number because you have a virus.
But before you click on anything or download anything or open any applications
just google the email address, make extra sure that the person who's contacting
you is actually Apple or Microsoft or whomever, and you know just when you're
getting a communication from a corporation that says there's something wrong
with your computer or something wrong with your account, be extra vigilant that
you're not being taken in.

[00:32:20] HOST: Hey,
where can people find your podcast and how can they listen?

[00:32:22] Alex: You
can find it at Replyall.s-o-y, or you can find it on any podcast
app, I-tunes, Podcatcher, whatever. And you can find me and my cohost, BJ Vogt,
on Twitter if that's the, if you're into that kind of thing. Yeah.

[00:32:43] HOST:
Alright, I'm back with Frank Abagnale and Frank, it's a pretty amazing story.
One of the many things that Alex goes into in this story is the fact that these
call centers in India, and I'm guessing in other parts of the world including
here in the U.S., they can pop up and disappear and then pop up somewhere else.

[00:33:01] Frank
Abagnale: And I always caution people to do, leave those things to the police
and investigators who are properly trained and equipped to handle those
situations. Don't try to take the law in your own, in your own hands. Don't try
to go think you’re going to be the special investigator that finds them out,
because that can become very dangerous, too. Some of these people go through
no, no lengths to protect themselves and who they are and what they're doing.

[00:33:25] HOST:
Right, and we hear Alex, who makes this rather extraordinary trip to other
parts of the world, put himself in a situations, or find himself in situations
that could have been dangerous, so certainly the AARP and Alex himself will say
don't do what I did.

[00:33:42] Frank
Abagnale: Absolutely.

[00:33:42] HOST: The
AARP Fraud Watch Network Ambassador, Frank Abagnale, thanks again for being
here with us.

[00:33:46] Frank
Abagnale: Thanks, Will.


[00:33:48] HOST: If
you or someone you know has been a victim of a scam, please call AARP's Fraud
Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360.

[00:34:01] HOST: Alright,
many thanks to our producers, Julie Getz and Brook Ellis. Our audio engineer,
Julio Gonzales, and of course, my cohost, Frank Abagnale. Be sure to find us on
Apple Podcast or any of the many fine podcast outlets you choose to visit. For
The Perfect Scam, I'm Will Johnson.



Alex Goldman is the host of the Reply All podcast. After receiving a peculiar phone call from someone claiming to be from Apple, Alex quickly realizes the call is a scam. However, Alex is curious to learn more about the scam artist on the other end of the phone and the industry of scamming they work in. Alex goes on a deep dive into the shady world of call centers and makes some startling discoveries.

TIP: Never interact with scammers. Don’t try to investigate on your own or take the law in your own hands.  Leave this to the police and investigators who are properly trained. If you receive a pop-up window prompting you to call a number, don’t do it!  Be skeptical of emails that claim to be from tech companies. Always independently verify any email address and phone number provided.

Next Episode

Episode 4: Grace's Gold and Silver Scam

Find out what happens when Grace's father dies and she is put in charge of investing her father's lifetime savings

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The Perfect ScamSM is a project of the AARP Fraud Watch Network, which equips consumers like you with the knowledge to give you power over scams.

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