by Mark Schwendau
By now, most of you know of friends and family members who have gotten scammed by phone scammers if you have not become a victim of a scammer yourself. They operate in a variety of ways, but their endgame is always the same: get their hands on your money.
A YouTube channel called “Scammer Payback” went online in 2019. It is run by a guy who goes by the name “Pierogi.” Some say this is an alias, while others say this is the guy’s real name. He is said to be 27 years old, worth between four and five million dollars, and is married to a “Mrs. Pierogi”. Pierogi works against scammers in a variety of scams over the phone, such as technical support scams, refund scams, Social Security/Medicare scams, and IRS impersonation scams.
Pierogi previously worked as a cybersecurity professional. Now he is focusing on high-production scam-baiting content where he pretends to be a scam victim portraying a variety of fictitious characters. Once they’re distracted, Pierogi uses his expertise in cybersecurity to infiltrate the scammers’ computer networks from his computer and proceeds to delete their files and gather their location and information to expose and use against them. In doing so, he has offered entertainment and public service education to millions and has been able to stop numerous scams in progress and return money to scam victims. In his latest YouTube video, filmed this summer in July and posted 5 days ago, he has received almost 3 million views!
This summer Pierogi organized “The People’s Call Center 2023” whereby over 100 people, mostly volunteers, served as scam baiters to take down entire scam call centers all over the world.
One phone app maker estimates almost 70 million Americans lost money to phone scams in 2022, and those scammers stole nearly $40 billion in total.
A news article in Yahoo Finance reported late in July of this year:
“The FTC is already laying down the law against robocalling companies with its pursuit for damages against these five major players involved in scam calling:
- Fluent LLC
- Viceroy Media Solutions LLC
- Yodel Technologies LLC
- Solar Xchange LLC
- Hello Hello, Miami LLC
The actions taken against these companies are part of over 180 lawsuits, cease-and-desists, warning letters, and civil and criminal actions. The largest offender of the group, Fluent LLC, obtained and sold more than 620 million telemarketing leads with deceptive ads that promised the following:
- Free valuable items
- Job interviews for UPS
- $1,000 Wal-Mart gift cards
They have been slapped with a $2.5 million civil penalty and banned from further robocall activities.”
Some advice to anybody reading this article would be to remember three important lessons:
- Never give anybody your personal information over the phone, no matter who they say they are. That includes people who claim to be with the IRS, Medicare/Medicaid, or law enforcement.
I usually politely tell them to send what they have to say to me by mail or show up at my door.
- If somebody addresses you on the phone by your first name, asking the question, “Is this YOUR NAME HERE?” do not answer with the word, “Yes.” Instead, say, “It is,” or “Who is calling?”
- Never respond to anybody asking you to send money.
This year, my phone has been mostly quiet, but that changed when summer came. I had one guy call me pretending to be one of my former college students who got a DUI and needed bail money as he did not want his parents to know. I played along with him, though I was angered by this guy who knew both of us and knew we had a relationship of teacher and student. I finally concluded the call by saying, “Muhamad (not his real name) is a Muslim and does not drink JACKASS!” Click.
Another thing that has been occurring just this month of September is a bunch of scam callers pretending to be Medicare officials. They will usually open by asking if I got my new red, white, and blue Medicare card in the mail, to which I respond, “What color is the new card?” Stupid criminals that they are, they usually answer me.
If Joe Biden and his DOJ and FBI were still on the job, one would think these people should be tracked down worldwide and arrested for impersonating a Federal Official This is just my thought on this particular scam.
Copyright © 2023 by Mark S. Schwendau
Mark S. Schwendau is a retired technology professor who has always had a sideline in news-editorial writing where his byline has been, “Bringing little known news to people who simply want to know the truth.” His website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech.