Blog Posts

Alex Chang Plumbs the Depths of Telemarketing Scammers

Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank News, Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

A scambaiting expedition leads to an unexpected conclusion:

“I trolled my IRS scammers for weeks. I learned something really dark.”
by Alex Chang
October 18, 2016

These scammers had called me so many times that I knew their script.

They always introduced themselves as IRS officers with inconspicuous American names, like “Paul Thomas.” They called to collect the $6,000 I owed the IRS. And if I didn’t pay, they threatened to send the local police to arrest me.

They were unconvincing. I didn’t understand how this scam could work on anyone. But a quick search led me to a couple in Tennessee, a student in Virginia, and thousands of others who’d fallen for the scam. There was something about this scam that worked “” and I had to find out what it was.

So I got further and further into the scam. At first, I played along for a few minutes and then hung up. After a few days, I trolled them with the vast amount I learned about their operation. Then, on a hot mid-September day, I decided enough was enough.

I was going to get to the end of this scam.

That’s how I ended up talking to “Steve Smith” for 30 minutes. He was a senior investigations officer “” the actual person who walks you through how to send them money. I learned that his secret is maintaining an aura of authority. That’s how he optimizes fear. That’s how he gets people to suspend logic, drive to Walgreens, and buy iTunes gift cards to pay the IRS. The scam takes advantage of the most vulnerable people. Read more.

Fiddle File #2

Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.

The Fiddle File #2

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

scream-197Los Angeles: Quality medical care “¦ The surgeon pranks your face while you are under anesthesia.

Tennessee: Children At Play… Torching neighborhood sewers.

San Francisco Bay Area: Clear the house, we”™re from the government, inspecting for poisonous snakes (and stealing anything of value).

Disney World: Pardon us, we”™re heading for the front of the line with our hire-the-handicapped helper.

Nationwide: You’re due a bundle in unclaimed cash, just give us all your personal info. Story is from Vegas but the scam is running around the country.

Colorado: It”™s the old jump screaming from the closet prank. Bang! You”™re d-e-a-d.

St. Louis: Here”™s a tip “¦ You”™ll never see the whopping big tip the insanely generous customer scribbled on the bill.

Nationwide: Wrap your car with ads while we empty your bank account. This report is from California but it”™s happening wherever the hustlers find a willing victim.

Florida: Flush with cash? Don”™t invest in toilet fans.

Spotted a hoax or scam deserving mention in our next roundup? We”™d be happy to hear from you Art of the Prank. You might save some reader a heap of hurting (or give them wild ideas for their next fiddle).