‘Can you hear me?’ Scam has Police Warning People to Hang up Immediately

NORFOLK, Va. – 'Can you hear me?' It is a simple question, but police say answering it could make you the victim of a scam.

Police in Virginia are now warning about the scam, which has also been recently reported in Florida, and, in 2016, in Pennsylvania.

“Anytime you become victim to a crime, you just feel violated,” said Officer Jo Ann Hughes with the Norfolk Police Department.

Here’s how it works – police say you’ll receive a phone call from a number you do not know.

“Usually it has a familiar area code,” Hughes told WTKR, making the potential victim more likely to answer the call.

Police say after you answer the phone, a person – or automated recording – on the other end of the line introduces themselves and their business.

“That kind of warms you up,” Hughes said.

After the introduction comes the question, "Can you hear me?"

“All of us, our natural response is to say, 'Yes,' or 'Sure,' or 'Yes I can,'” said Hughes, but she says this is exactly what you do not want to do.

Police say scammers record your ‘yes’ response. In one variation of the scam documented by the Better Business Bureau in October, 2016, the criminals may pretend to be from a cruise line or home security company and will later bill you for products or services you never asked for.

If you try to deny the charges, the scammers will playback your verbal confirmation ‘yes’ and threaten to take legal action if you don’t pay.

In another variation, scammers may use the recording to authorize charges on a stolen credit card or with a utility company by tricking an automated system, according to CBS News.  The con artists may have already stolen other personal information through a data breach that would allow them to pass the security checks.

“A lot of times, victims do not want to come forward because they are embarrassed. They feel like, ‘It was my fault. I should have known better,’ and they are just embarrassed by it all together. So we do not get a whole lot of reports, unfortunately,” said Hughes.

Police say to avoid this scam, follow this advice.

    1. Do not answer the phone from numbers you do not recognize,
    2. Do not give out personal information,
    3. Do not confirm your number over the phone,
    4. Do not answer questions over the phone.

And finally this piece of advice: hang up the phone and call 911 instead.

“We really want people to hear this,” said Hughes. “[We want people to] say, ‘Look, I just heard about this scam on TV,’…and to hang up.”

8 comments

  • dan harmon

    Good, I’m glad others are saying not to call 911…that was a silly thing to put in the article. Your life isn’t in danger. Anyway, I recently changed my voicemail message to say “Due to the large number of spam phone calls received, I no longer answer calls from numbers not in my contacts. If you’d like me to return your call, please leave me your name and I will add you for next time.”

  • Manly Chesterson

    I can personally vouch for Derp’s comment….DO NOT, DO NOT, again, DO NOT call 911. Your better off just blocking the number that called and going about your day. Better off to just not answer the phone if you don’t recognize the number, if its a matter that needs attention, whoever is calling will leave a message. 911 cannot do anything in that scenario.

  • ActualExperience

    Not necessarily fake news. I agree that calling 911 is not warranted in any way! This is not an emergency. However, I did recently receive a cell phone call a week ago where the automated caller identified themselves, then asked me if I could hear them clearly. I emphatically answered “NO”, even though I could hear them fine. They ignored my answer and said “Great”, and went into their sales pitch, and I hung up. The number was from the local area code which is why I answered, but once I heard the automated script, I knew it was bogus. I wanted to see what they would do if I said no. I don’t know if I was a potential target, but it’s possible. So be aware and just hang up if you do get such a call.

  • whatever831

    Could we imagine this for one moment. Calls 911, what is your emergency? “Uh, well I just recieved a phone call from someone I don’t know, they asked if I could hear them, and I said yes… What do I do now?” Seriously? People are embarrassed to report this? Well I would damn sure not call 911 for it. Morons. I never answer a number I do not know. And while I think of it, I get frustrated when people can’t hear me, so I would just keep saying hello, or who is this lol. No yes’ from me.

  • MMMM

    So what is the point of the Do not call list!? I seem to have gotten more calls reporting them than before! So why isn’t the government taking care of this nonsense? Some people even get calls from themselves. It’s a JOKE!

    • dan harmon

      Apparently it’s easy to spoof phone numbers to beat that list. It worked great for me for years and now it’s just horrible!

  • DERP

    Seriously? …’Call 911?’
    How about call a non emergency number, or the FTC. Nine times out of ten there not even in the USA so nothing will be done and they spoof the number, which is untraceable.

    • WarningFakeNews

      Exactly. If we called 911 every time we had a bot or live telemarketer call here, we’d be calling them 4-6 times a day. Almost none of them are legitimate, meaning they don’t care whether or not you’re on a do not call list.

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