Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Take a clandestine look at the inner workings of a robocall scam center in action

Illustration for article titled Take a clandestine look at the inner workings of a robocall scam center in action
Screenshot: YouTube

If you are a human with a phone number, you’ve either received a scam robocall before or are probably getting one right this very second. While most of us tend to ignore calls from unfamiliar numbers at this point, someone is still falling for these scams, or they wouldn’t be worthwhile. In the fascinating video below, YouTuber Jim Browning employs some of the scammers’ own tricks against them, gaining remote access to a scam operation in India to show exactly how they operate before exacting a bit of satisfying vigilante revenge.

Via one of the alleged scammers’ webcams, Browning provides a look inside the call-center. It’s a cramped space, with around eight people working, talking, and smoking within inches of each other. The scammers employ the conversational tools of your typical call-center worker, but at a much more aggressive tilt.


The video shows the scammers, via a WhatsApp conversation, obtaining a list of numbers—known as a “sucker list”—that have already fallen victim to a previous scam. These people are ideal targets to be scammed again, this time in the form of offering a refund for the “services” provided by the first scam. As one scammer carries his laptop around the tiny office, operators can be seen and heard in the background walking callers through the installation of software that will give the scammers remote access to their victims’ computers. Once the scammers have gained access, they show the victim a phony bank statement that appears to show that a “refund” for the unwanted services has been made in a larger amount than intended, at which point the victim is asked to repay the difference.

With their hooks in, Browning says these scammers are among the most vicious he’s encountered. Browning shows the scammers activating the webcam of a victim, collecting photos of her family, and eventually attempting to delete all of her files when she tries to back out of the scam. In another call, an absurdly bold scammer walking a victim through how to transfer money to him manages to convince the victim not to talk to anyone at their bank because it is somehow actually the bank that is in on a scam.

The good news here is that Browning uses the scammer’s IP address and wireless network to pinpoint nearly their exact location in Kolkata, India, and report this information to local police, though he is skeptical they will do much. Browning adds that he intervened before any of the victims featured in the video lost money.

Most enjoyably, though, Browning manages to interfere with the scammers’ robocalls, replacing their outgoing message with a warning that this call, and all others like it, is a scam. While anyone reading this probably doesn’t need to be told that Microsoft isn’t actually going out of business, there are some people out there that genuinely do need the help. It’s nice to see that someone is doing something about these scams, since the FCC either can’t or won’t.

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

Contributor, The A.V. Club.