A few weeks ago, my Yahoo email got hacked. The hackers used my account to send emails to all my contacts in which the subject was blank and the body contained only a link, probably to a page that would infect their computers with a virus. This was done twice. Once at 3-something AM from Japan, and once at 5-something AM from France. As soon as I was notified that morning, I changed my password. I was fortunate that they didn’t change the password first so that I’d be blocked out.
I thought that was the end of it, but the next day I got about a dozen emails from Windows Live asking me to confirm a password reset. (I know, I know… Yahoo, Windows Live. There are reasons, OK? ) So at that point I knew they had downloaded all my mail and were using it to any advantage they could. Luckily, my credit card had just expired, so if I had ever left that information with a website I bought something from (which I don’t think I ever did [except for Amazon]), it wouldn’t work anyway.
I went around to any site and service I could think of and changed my passwords. It seemed like everything was covered.
Then the phone calls started. I was getting calls all day long from a different weird number every time. Over a dozen a day. Some of them weren’t even phone numbers. One was 192552. What the fuck is that?
I called Verizon and asked if there was something they could do to get money from me if I just answered the phone. She told me there wasn’t anything they could do apart from scamming me somehow. She also said that I can block up to five numbers for free. Well, that’s nice, but they always call from a different number so that’s useless. I had to think of something else.
I looked at the actual phone section of my iPhone. (Did you know it can make calls, too?!) There were no controls for what I wanted, which was to allow calls from my contacts to go through, and all others go to voicemail. Despite being arguably the most advanced phone on the market, doing what I wanted wasn’t possible. But I could have sworn I had seen that capability somewhere…
Google Voice! Yes! And I already have a Google Voice number associated with my phone! And it has my contacts! Yay! Exclamation point!
So I forwarded all my calls to the Google Voice number, and set up rules there to direct all unknown numbers immediately to voicemail (with my least-bizarre outgoing message), and forward all calls from numbers that are in my contacts to my cell phone. Excellent! I would still get messages from unknown people who are legitimate, and I’d get all the calls from people I know on my cell phoneWAITAMINNIT…
If someone I know calls, they’d get forwarded to Google Voice and approved to get forwarded to my cell phone, but I have all calls forwarded to Google Voice…
So I changed it to forward the good people to my home phone. Not ideal, but I don’t get many calls anyway, and with any luck this spam-calling nightmare will be over as soon as they realize they reach a dead end every time.
It worked pretty well. I got lots of texts and emails about missed calls, with some voicemail messages sprinkled in sparingly, but that didn’t bother me. Then I thought that they shouldn’t even hear my voice, so I changed the outgoing message that unknown callers hear to the default Google Voice message. That has the advantage that they would know that they are fighting a machine and just give up. OK, that’s not very likely, but a guy can dream, can’t he?
Guess what. They didn’t give up. But there was a change. The Google Voice outgoing message somehow fooled their system into thinking someone actually answered the phone. So I started getting mostly voicemails instead of mostly missed calls.
The voicemails would start with a weird tone that seemed to be their computer-dialer switching the call to a (sub)human in some call center in India, judging by the accents.
Not that all Indians are subhuman. I’m just referring to the ones that spend all day trying to scam unsuspecting people whose email has been hacked.
Most of the voicemails are three to ten seconds of “Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello?” Then silence, then hang up. Sometimes they leave a substantial message, but they say it’s for someone who isn’t me. If you’re going to do that, just don’t use a name, doofus. Duh.
The voicemail I posted here is, considering all of the above, by far the funniest voicemail I have ever received. Here’s a guy who wants me to trust him so he can sell me some non-existent thing, and he suddenly goes full creepster. I wonder if all scamming calls are monitored for quality assurance.
I’d like to post a lot of these voicemails, but Tumblr only allows one upload a day. Does anyone know how to get mp3s hosted so I can link to them here?