TWIPF2 This week in phone fraud, the strange world of professional prank phone calls and scammers impersonate the French minister of defense.

This week’s episode of Reply All, a popular internet podcast, focused on the bizarre world of professional prank phone callers. These pranksters use phone fraud techniques like caller ID spoofing and social engineering, but without any real purpose.

The Times of Israel reported over the weekend that several African presidents were contacted by an Israeli posing as the French Defense Minister. The imposter claimed that French secret agents had been abducted by jihadists, and asked the African leaders to help pay the ransom. French police say the calls were a scam.


Full Breakdown of This Week’s Phone Fraud News

60 Minutes Australia: Special Investigation: Bugged, Tracked, Hacked – In this special investigation Ross Coulthart discovers, we are facing the biggest threat to our privacy that the world has ever seen. The sensitive data contained on our phones is open. Anyone in the know can bug or track your phone, from anywhere in the world.

Telecompaper: Dutch govt rules out ban on caller ID spoofing – There will be no legal ban on caller ID spoofing, according to the Dutch justice ministry. While fraud may be committed using the practice, it also has a number of legal applications, making a ban undesirable. Spoofing changes the number seen by the call recipient.

The Times of Israel: Israelis said conning Africans by posing as French minister – Several African presidents were contacted by someone posing asthe French Defense Minister who claimed that French secret agents had been abducted by jihadists, but insisting the news be kept secret. The caller then demanded that they pay a ransom.

Inquisitr: One sign that you’re the next victim of phone fraud is absolute silence – In a recent interview with NPR, one security expert, Vijay Balasubramaniyan of Pindrop Security, reveals a range of different phone scam scenarios that you may have never thought of. One of the biggest scams he recalls, is the 2014 IRS scam.

The Telegraph: How Ashley Madison hack has fuelled an opportunist bank scam – They are now posing as security experts or police officers, telling potential victims that they are targets of fictitious new hacks. “These scammers can appear extremely convincing, so it’s vital that everyone is alert,” said Katy Worobec of Financial Fraud Action.

The Guardian: TalkTalk refuses to compensate me after I fell victim to telephone scam – “We know a small number of customers are being targeted by phone scammers, using a limited amount of customer data that was accessed illegally at the end of last year,” a spokesperson admits. “No sensitive information was accessed.”

AARP: Phony Phone Numbers Can Cost You Money – The trick is in the toll-free area code. “Fraudsters are mass-buying phone numbers with the identical seven digits of the intended entity but a different toll-free code — for instance, replacing 888 or 866 for the actual 800 code,” explains Beau Ballinger of AARP.

Channel 3000: Man loses $6,800 to phone scam – Someone called the man claiming to be from the IRS and warning him that the victim owed back taxes. The caller said several warrants were issued for his arrest, but that they would be waived if he paid the amount he owed.

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Atlanta No. 6 for identity fraud rings – A new report by ID Analytics says Atlanta is No. 6 in the country when it comes to fraud rings. Chicago is ranked No. 1 among 10 cities in the U.S. based on the number of fraud rings detected, based on applications processed for 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Digg Reply All Podcast: The Bizarre Story Behind A Fake Comcast Customer Representative – On this week’s episode of Reply All, a terrible customer service phone call leads us down a rabbit hole of obfuscation, subterfuge, and goofing off. Find out who would impersonate a multi-national media company and why they would call a filmmaker in Nashville.

CBS Los Angeles: Family Turns Tables On Kidnapping Phone Scam – The woman, who asked not to be named, said a man called her from an unknown number, saying he had been in a car accident with one of her family members and needed money in exchange for letting the family member go.

KVUE: Lottery scam with a twist hitting Central Texas – The caller said the won couple won $3.5 million and a new car. Then, the Keilbergs were instructed to call a phone number and were instructed to input a six digit number exclusive to them. “Congratulations, your prize has been reserved!”

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