Telemarketing fraud

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Telemarketing fraud is fraudulent selling conducted over the telephone. The term is also used for telephone fraud not involving selling.

Older people may be targeted more frequently because the caller assumes they may live alone, have a nest egg, or may be more polite toward strangers.[1]

Types of fraud[edit]

  • Advance fee fraud, typically claiming that the victim will receive an actually non-existent lottery prize, government grant or loan, 10 years of computer and anti-virus support,[2] compensation for a car accident, etc.
  • Pyramid schemes
  • Securities fraud, often via boiler rooms: calling people believed to be gullible and selling worthless securities, and sometimes fraudulently offering, for payment, to recover money lost to a boiler room fraud (in itself an advance fee fraud). The same mechanism is used to sell timeshared holiday accommodation not worth the price asked, then charging a fee to apparently help the customer to sell on the timeshare. In this type of fraud amounts are potentially large, and there is often the appearance of a legitimate company, with Web site and so on.
  • Credit card fraud, where victims are called (either directly or by automated dialer) with an offer to lower their credit card rate or reduce debt. The caller may then ask for personal information (or even a credit card number) to proceed with the offer.
  • Overpayment fraud, where a payment is due to the victim, typically for an online auction sale or classified advertising, and a check or money order for a larger amount is sent with some pretext, with a request to send the goods and also wire back the "overpaid" amount; the check is fraudulent, and both goods and money sent are lost.
  • Charity fraud
  • Cramming (small charges are added to a bill by a third party without the subscriber's consent or disclosure)
  • Misrepresented office supplies or directory listing services. These typically seek information for use in attempts to bill for unsolicited products and services (such as the model number of office equipment, for which a fraudulent vendor ships an unsolicited order of toner at an inflated price).
  • Creation of false third-party verification recordings attributed to customers of other telephone carriers, used for telephone slamming
  • Summer Jobs Fraud[3][4]

Computer support[edit]

A telephone call is made saying typically that virus activity has been detected on the victim's computer; calls may claim to be associated with a reputable company such as Microsoft. Callers assume that the victim has a computer running a Microsoft Windows operating system (users of other operating systems, such as Linux, are a minority, and are likely to be technically knowledgeable). They will ask users to take actions which display information that looks alarming and unexpected, although in fact is perfectly normal, such as the Windows event viewer log or temporary files list, and say that it is evidence of infection. Victims are often directed to a remote desktop software website such as or TeamViewer;[5] the caller then has complete control over the computer, and can display further alarming displays, and install malware. An offer may be made to remove the "viruses" and supply remote computer support for several years for a single payment. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has filed lawsuits against a number of businesses and websites performing this scam.[6][7] If malware is installed on a computer by any means including this, an attacker can have continuing full control, and access to sensitive personal, financial, or business information, until the malware is reliably removed.[8]

See also Rogue security software.


  1. ^ "Phone Scams". The Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved 12 August 2014.  External link in |website= (help)
  2. ^ BBC: Cold-call firms flout rules that block telemarketers, 2 July 2012
  3. ^ "Students falling victim to summer job scam". 
  4. ^ "10 Telltale Signs of a Summer Jobs Scam". 
  5. ^ What happens if you play along with a Microsoft 'tech support' scam?, Olivia Solon, Wired, 11 April 2013
  6. ^ "FTC Halts Massive Tech Support Scams". press release. U.S. Federal Trade Commission. October 3, 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ Brodkin, Jon (October 3, 2012). "Hello, I'm definitely not calling from India. Can I take control of your PC?". Ars Technica. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  8. ^ Landesman, Mary. "Your PC is Infected Phone Scam;, Logmein, Virus Remote Control Scam". » Computing » Antivirus Software » Phishing & Online Scams. Retrieved 6 November 2012.