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Latest Scam Reports
 

Fake Boarding Passes Warning

Several years ago a university student, Christopher Soghoian, decided to test security at what is considered to be one of the most secure sites in the world; namely, the airport. Beginning with testing the limits of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), he found that it was fairly easy to board an airplane with a pocketknife, matches, box cutter, as well as various other banned items. He didn’t stop there, however, and soon decided to create a fake boarding pass generator that allowed anyone to fake a boarding pass on a number of different airlines.

It turned out his fake pass was highly effective and he soon found himself on Northwest Airlines headed for Twin Cities, MN. The result was a visit by the FBI upon his return, but a conviction did not result when he explained he conducted the experiment to demonstrate the vulnerability of one of the most secure systems in the world. Unfortunately, others soon found his program and instituted scams that are going onto this day.

Fake boarding passes sometimes include the need for fake IDs. One individual managed to board British Airlines under the name of Osama Bin Laden wearing a T-shirt bearing his name and having no ID. It would seem to reason that perhaps they believed the individual was actually the person named on the ticket and didn’t want him in their country either. Regardless of the reason, individuals utilizing this system are breaking the law and need to be caught.

Pursuing research on this topic also demonstrated that it’s possible to fly on someone else’s ticket whose name has been replaced. With a fake photo ID this means that terrorists can go anywhere in the world finding it easy to bypass airport security. Although a no-fly list exists for known terrorists, if they can find a way to fly under someone else’s name, the will not be detained. Additionally, adding “SSSS” to a ticket allows access to gate areas as well as avoids secondary screening.

Although originally boarding passes were difficult to fake due to the special paper and equipment required to print them, with online printing this no longer applies. The result is that fake boarding passes are now being used by marketers to get people to attend timeshares as well as in numerous scams that promise the world, but deliver only heartache. Frequently they come through emails that were found through phishing expeditions conducted by con artists and hackers.

Unfortunately, with online printing it’s fairly easy to generate or change boarding passes with programs such as Photoshop. As in Soghoian’s case, this software was integrated into his program utilizing an old, single boarding pass. As a result of the increase in these forgeries, many airports have now installed scanners that are designed to identify fakes, even those that have been printed from a home computer.

Despite this fact, those receiving these forgeries through email solicitations can’t tell them from the real thing. Nothing would be worse than showing up at the airport only to have security haul you away because you’re in possession of a fake boarding pass. As mentioned by Soghoian, there is no way to guarantee 100% security despite best efforts. If receiving one of these passes through an email contact the best thing to do is to contact the airline to ensure it’s authentic.

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Fake Yellow Pages Listing Scam

For those in business, advertising through the Yellow Pages has been a tried and true method of increasing a customer base. The name Yellow Pages nor the “Walking Fingers” logo, however, are not copyrighted and is now being used by scammers who mass distribute advertisements, invoices, and even checks with the intent of committing fraud. As a result, companies must use caution in dealing with a company that is imitating one that has, for so many years, been well-established and reliable.

This makes it even more important than ever to use caution with dealing with companies by name only. Many older businesses who have taken years to develop a solid reputation are now facing the repercussions of this type of fraud or deceit. Although information received may appear to be the real thing, or even is a copy, they are just that, Photoshop copies. In other cases individuals have received documents with a category along with a request to review the ad and confirm that everything is correct. Unfortunately, the company sending the request is not the real Yellow Pages.

The documents distributed often appear authentic. As a result, it’s easy to believe that the copy of the ad or the confirmation documentation and invoice actually came from the Yellow Pages. What is provided in some instances, instead, is a listing in an obscure directory which sometimes includes addition to the Internet low-hit Yellow Pages directory, but many other times provides nothing in return for the investment. Companies in the business of scamming are very different entities for those who have worked tirelessly to develop a standard that makes them number one.

Since scams are on the increase, several companies such as Loss Prevention Concepts, Ltd. have generated guidelines to help businesses who have been contacted by individuals’ intent on fraud. They suggest that dealing only with local representatives who specialize in Yellow Pages advertising will prevent the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime. They also suggest that building a solid reputation through customer satisfaction is the best way to increase customer base. As current customers spread the word about a company’s great products and services, others will follow. Although there are many benefits to receiving the exposure provided through print and Internet marketing, unless customers’ expectations are met by the business, the results will be short-lived.

The Federal Trade Commission is taking action now to cease these kinds of unlawful practices. In one case in Canada, for instance, perpetrators deceptively sold listings for Internet businesses along with website hosting services to unsuspecting Spanish speaking business owners. Defendants were told that the individuals were calling to update information as part of their renewal policy. They evaded questions related to costs saying only that it was the same as last year. They would then illegally bill these businesses over and over again who were located in the US and Puerto Rico for listings that had not been ordered. Not only are these con artists going to be prohibited from ever running a business again, but will have to give up the money they did collect.

As a business owner it’s important to protect personal identity and investments as much as it is for individuals. Should a solicitation contact be made it is always prudent to be wary and to contact a local representatives to ensure the call or email is authentic. Although the FTC and FAA are doing their best to shut down these operations as they begin, it will take cautious individuals filing numerous complaints in order to actually make a difference.

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Spoofing Caller IDs

The Communications Act of 1934 was established by Congress in an effort to encourage and regulate electronic communication in the US. As a result, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was formed in order to consolidate the regulation of communication practices within a single organization. Although the original act has been amended several times, based on advances in new technology and changes in society, legislative bodies are now scrambling to keep up with what is called Caller ID Spoofing. This practice allows businesses to use alternative numbers while billing the original business.

This is an important program for many businesses who hire telemarketers who work from home, yet prevent billing against personal phone numbers. In this way the caller’s home number and identify remain unknown to consumers in order to protect privacy. New proposed legislation would end the practice of using caller ID to transmit information which is misleading, yet businesses fighting this legislation claim that protecting the privacy of their employees who work from home are not deceptive or fraudulent in intent.

An example of how this practice can be misused, however, is with Atlas Supply Inc. out of Tempe Arizona who has been in business since 1917. Telemarketers are now using their identity in order to make fraudulent and deceptive calls to unwitting consumers who believe they are being contacted by a well-established company.

In fact, this company has spent decades building a solid business that is respected in the community and the use of their name by other entities has generated many problems that have been difficult to resolve. According to Jessica McIntosh, one of the principles in the company, it’s more difficult to track down the parties misusing their information than would be expected. Major telephone carriers won’t pursue complaints by individual companies and law enforcement can’t seem to track down con artists who continue to move in order to evade authorities.

This practice, however, is not limited to businesses. It’s fairly easy to spoof anyone’s name and number and, frequently, members of the younger generation will use such practices just for the fun of it. When calls are made to police stations, government offices, hospitals, schools, and even 911 centers for the purpose of causing mayhem and making false reports, trust is violated. Additionally, the use of automated dialing systems is on the rise which, when calls are answered, forwards callers to an agent, sex menu, recorded message, ad, or a number of other options. However, the FBI has a unit that investigates these types of calls and is attempting to close them down as soon as complaints arise.

The use of Caller ID was never intended to disguise the true identity of callers. Therefore, many telemarketers walk a fine line. Some work with reputable companies from home where ID information reflects the company they work for rather than personal information. However, more and more are running fraudulent or deceptive scams that are increasing the number of victims at an incredible pace. It would appear that new legislation may be the only way to ensure that those answering the calls know exactly who they are speaking to and have the option of not answering the phone at all. However, in order to give it “teeth” any new legislation needs to be followed up with active pursuit and conviction of those using this system for misleading purposes.

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Fake Debt Collectors – a Growing Pain

An arrogant gentleman with a thick accent calls and asks you by your full name. He explains that he’s a detective collecting an outstanding debt and that if you don’t pay, you’ll end up in jail. The problem is that you’ve never borrowed a dime in your life, or that the debt is no longer valid.

You have a fake debt collector in your hands.

This phenomenon has exploded in recent years. These phony detectives pick their targets in different ways.

It’s either they call a random phone number hoping to get someone who’s borrowed money in the past, which is often the case since many Americans were forced to borrow money due to economic recession, or they call an actual ex-debtor who has already paid off the debt.

As soon as they have someone on the phone, the vicious money extortion cycle begins. And although these calls usually originate from India, these callers manage to sound like they’re US- based law enforcement agents ready to arrest the poor victim immediately if he doesn’t send the money.

One such operation, halted by the FTC, has made over 2 and a half million calls and has stolen over 5 million dollars from unsuspecting consumers.

Callercenter.com happens to report a large number of such complaints on the website everyday and being the person who answers the victims’ emails, I must say that it’s heartbreaking to read how much emotional distress the victims suffered when they received such calls.

There is this report from a lady who received over a dozen calls to her home. When she stopped answering the phone, the crooks started calling her at work and even called her neighbors. She felt extremely harassed then that it came to a point where she almost sent them money although she knew she would be paying off a debt she didn’t owe. Good thing the transaction was unsuccessful.

It has also been reported that the callers usually ask for amounts anywhere between $300 and $2000 in bogus charges. While it may be small for some, it’s unfortunate that for some families, these few hundred dollars make a whole lot of difference. It becomes a choice between to eat and not pay their utility bills or pay them and go hungry.

There are also reports from victims who were utterly frustrated and reported to the police. However, since the calls were placed over the internet lines and came from a different country, the local police department didn’t have a choice but refer these cases to the FBI. Unfortunately, since it is difficult to connect these calls together, many of these investigations end up in the cold case archives.

But there’s always hope. The more calls these criminals make, the greater number of complaints end up filed with the agency that has the power to strike the money grabbers behind these calls, the FTC. Once they cut off these violators’ controlling force, the whole operation crumbles from the top down. Let us just hope that FTC can eradicate these snakes faster than they can breed.

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Top 14 Ways To Annoy Telemarketers

There is nothing more annoying that sitting down to dinner, preparing to go out or doing something that is important and then receiving a call from a telemarketer promoting something in which you have no interest. This is sometimes known as direct marketing or inside sales.

Some of these solicitations are recorded and sent by automatic dialing systems that select numbers at random in a particular area code or geographic location. Others are done by people who are given a script to read in order to persuade the recipient to contact a company selling the product. Robocalls that are using computerized auto-dialers and computer-delivered pre-corded messages in the sale pitch are often the workings of a scammer, but even for legitimate companies they can be problematic.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has implemented a “National Do Not Call Registry” list on which anyone can request to be listed. Once on the list telemarketers are forbidden to call these numbers and, if they do so, can be heavily fined. Some states also have additional regulations. In 2009, FTC regulations banning robocalls went into effect.

Other countries have also instituted similar laws. In Canada, for example, telemarketing is regulated by the government and enforced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

For a number of people these telemarketing calls are a constant annoyance. However, there are a number of ways to stop these calls and get a little revenge along the way. These are especially effective if there is a live person on the phone. If it is a robo call, get the phone number, look up the company, and report them to the FTC. This is effective only if you are on the “No Call” list.

  1. One favorite is to say, “I’m really interested, but someone’s at the door, will you excuse me a minute?” and then just leave the phone off the hook and go do something else. After about 10 or 15 minutes they will get tired of waiting and hang up. Be sure and leave the phone off the hook for awhile as they will call back if you hang up immediately.
  2. Say “No speak English” and hang up.
  3. Pretend to be a small child and say, “Nobody’s home except Grandpa and he’s waiting for an ambulance to take him to the hospital.”
  4. Ask the telemarketer where they work and tell them you want to apply for a job.
  5. Tell the telemarketer that you’re looking for a date and he or she sounds just like what you are looking for and where can you meet them. If they persist go into the expectations for the event, how to dress, and anything else you can think of. Just don’t let them get back to their script.
  6. Have a recorder handy with taped music and place it next to the telephone at full volume.
  7. Tell the caller that you can’t read or write and are getting kicked out of your house.
  8. Have a whistle near the phone and say “Don’t call me again” and then blow on the whistle.
  9. If they are talking about lending money, say “This is great, I just filed for bankruptcy, how much can I get?”
  10. Ask the telemarketer for a phone number to call. When they say they can’t give it out then ask for their home phone number so you can call. When they say they don’t want to get a call at home then say “Now you know how I feel” and hang up.
  11. If they are calling about a Family and Friends Plan, say I don’t have any friends, will you be my friend? Give me your home number and we can arrange a date.
  12. Just keep saying “No” in an even tone varying the pitch, until they hang up.
  13. If it is a rug cleaning company say “I’m glad you called, I’m looking for a company that can clean up a great deal of human blood because of a murder that happened yesterday in the living room”.
  14. When they ask “How are you today?” respond by saying “I’m so glad you asked. My sciatica is out and I have to take a lot of pain medicine, but you know how that is. No one seems to care these days, my dog died and I think cousin Bob is going to try to move in with me”. Keep going on with various complaints and eventually they will hang up.

It’s important to remember that if on the Do Not Call List telemarketing calls can be stopped all together. When they start to talk just tell them you’re on the list, say thank you, and hang up. If they can keep you on the line long enough, they can often get you to buy something you don’t want.

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Debt Solution Phone scam

Ever got a call from the “Debt Managers” or “Debt Advice Bureau” on money issues? Did you ever wonder who these people really are and what they can do to help you about your debt? Hmmm… Be careful. The person calling to offer help may just be scammers and they go by many names!

The Federal Trade Commission released a warning after reports on phony debt solution calls started pouring in. While there really are companies that offer debt settlement services, fraudsters have taken advantage of this operation, too. This scam works with a promise to help financially troubled individuals by reducing their debts or getting them better deals. But the catch is, they require the consumer to pay large up-front fees of as much as $2,000 or more. Be warned that only promises designed to mislead the consumers. Once the consumer pays the money, the fraudsters do not deliver the promised services.

Where the fraudsters got the names and numbers to call is unclear, too. Finance websites is one possible source, though. These people use computer programs to harvest details. Shared phone numbers on social networking accounts is also an option. Other ways employed by these fraudsters include selling call list, the national phone directory, and a lot more so it is important to remain cautious when sharing personal information.

To avoid falling victim to this particular scam, practice skepticism. If the money you owe more is more than you can afford to pay, you may approach a credit counseling agency to help you establish a “debt management plan.” But be sure that it’s a legit agency you’re working with. Check with the State Commerce Department to know if it is properly licensed and has not had any enforcement action taken against it.

Just as a random call about winning the lottery is too good to be true, so are most debt solution offers. Remember that no new loan is going to free you instantly from your debts. And be careful where you seek help. You might just run into a scammer who’s after the little money that you have left.

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“Swatting” and Phone Scams

The police are warning taxpayers about an old phone scam; but this time, with a new twist. According to the reports, the scammers call the victim and claim to be an IRS agent. The scammers then demand money from the victim, as a payment for the amount the victim supposedly owed IRS, and threaten that unless the victim makes an immediate payment through prepaid debit cards or money transfer services, he’s at risk of being arrested. At this point, the victim may think the call is unreasonable and refuse to pay, but what may happen next is something nobody may have predicted.

The scammers resort to a tactic called “Swatting.” As the name implies, the scammers call the local police department or an emergency hotline and make a false report regarding an emergency situation to draw a response from the law enforcers, usually a SWAT team. The scammers spoof the caller ID to make it appear that it’s the victim calling for help. Scammers are reported to “swat“ the victim for revenge or to make the victim believe that he’s about to be arrested. Either way, it is a very dangerous joke and has serious consequences.

Taking that into consideration, the authorities continue to warn people about this new type of action from the scammers and urge people to be cautious when dealing with suspicious callers on the phone.

Below are tips to avoid scam calls that may lead to swatting:

  1. If you get an anonymous call and there’s a delay when you answer, it’s an automated call. You don’t have to put up with the caller. Hang up.
  2. Use an answering machine to screen calls. Scammers don’t usually leave voice messages, or you’ll know it’s them.
  3. Use a caller ID to identify scammers. If you get an anonymous caller, you can easily look up the phone number at Callercenter.com to find out who’s behind the call.
  4. If you do answer and you realize it’s a phony caller, never argue. Simply hang up.
  5. NEVER give out your credit card or bank account details. You can’t be sure who the caller is or how your information will be used.
  6. Finally, and the most important of all, tell the police if you feel that you are being harassed or threatened.

There’s no telling when you will receive a scam call so being aware is an advantage. If you believe that you are a victim to any type of phone scam, call the Federal Trade Commission and use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” to report the violation at FTC.gov.

 

 

 

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Telemarketers pay him per minute of his time

When we read the original story on BBC we couldn’t believe it. A gentleman by the name of Lee Beaumont setup a pay-per-minute line, known as 0871 line in U.K, and advised telemarketers that called to call him back on the 0871 number instead.

Even though Mr. Beaumont was upfront about the 0871 number many of the telemarketers disregarded the warning and literally paid the price, which is about 17 cents per minute.

At the time the story was written the profits from the line were about 500$ USD.

When the story first appeared on our facebook page it became very popular and as per Mr.Beaumont he’s received a lot of letter of encouragement from people all around the world.

Before you is a follow up interview we did with Mr. Beaumont to get an update about his original idea.

Q: First of all, I’d like to say that it’s a pretty genius idea and first question is if you’re still using the number that you have setup?

A: I am still using it, although I have made one change. Up until last month I had the 0871 number directed to my home phone. But as I no longer have a home phone due to me now trying to save even more money on my normal household bills. I now have the 0871 number directed to my Skype number, this means I can accept a skype call while I am working at my laptop, out working the day via my mobile, shopping, even laying in bed, so I have managed to get it to work better for me now.

Q: Have you had a lot of positive feedback from people that are constantly bothered by telemarketers?

A: The feedback has been amazing. In-fact 99% of people have said Well Done and asked if they could do it too. I have been careful and said ONLY do it if you fully read our UK code as you can get in trouble if you make mistakes. But as with anything I have had a far bit of hate saying I am evil and all that, but it’s all gone over my head.

Q: Did you get any backlash from telemarketers? Did anyone try to sue you or threaten you with legal action? If so, what was the backlash?

A: Nothing at all, apart from 1 company, when I was talking on BBC Radio 2 with Jeremy Vine I did mention an energy company who I managed to make a good bit of money from via my 0871 number, but I posted the letter on my twitter and as by magic the legal threats never came to anything.

Q: Have you come up with any other novel ways of dealing with telemarketers apart from the number that you have setup? If so, what are they?

A: Not really. If I do come up with anything else I will be sure to let you know.

Q: How many telemarketing calls do you currently receive?

A: It’s gone up since the BBC broke my story and I getting around 30 a month now and I am really enjoying it. I should make clear that using my 0871 number for cold callers is a hobby of mine. Yes it makes me some money, but I also really enjoy making telemarketers PAY to call ME. It’s a crazy old word we live in.

Q: How much more money have you generated from this venture if it’s not a secret?

A: To date I have made just over £700. It was £300-£400 when the news first came out in August 2013 (6 months ago)

Q: What piece of advice do you have for people that are constantly bothered by telemarketers, but are not able to setup a line like you did?

A: Ditch the normal home-phone. I know it’s a big step, however most of the feedback I have had from other people is they have stopped using the normal home phone and use a mobile for everything now.

If you are in the UK you can sign up for the TPS, but that does not work 100% still due to the various loopholes surrounding it.

 

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Scammers threaten to cut your company’s phone lines unless you pay a fake debt

Scammers are now threatening to disable your employer’s phone lines unless you agree to pay up a fictitious debt. This new and bizarre phone scam has been making rounds in the United States in the past couple of months.

The phone calls are being placed by criminals using voice over IP telephone lines, which means that they are able to place 100 of millions of calls from the comfort of their own home in a very short period of time.

The sheer bizarreness of the scam is hard to explain.

Imagine receiving a call one day from an individual who claims to be calling from a financial institution in order to collect a debt that you’ve never heard of. When you begin to object the individual starts threatening you saying that unless you pay up his “company” has the authority to disable all of your company’s phone lines. After a while the threat turns into action and all of the phone lines and your company are disabled.
The origin of the phone calls is unknown, in one instance the Police Department was able to trace the phone call back to Nigeria through an intermediary in Florida.

Similar to the way that you can clog up your bathroom if you throw too much brown paper into the toilet, scammers are able to clog up the phone systems by placing millions  of automated telephone calls which can block a whole organization’s phone system. In an article published written by Nick Wingfield and published by NY times scammers even went as far as blocking the telephone lines of a hospital’s intensive care unit for six hours. These denial of service attacks have also been perpetrated against other public sector institutions such as Sheriff’s Offices’ and even the Coast Guard. In all there have been 200 such phone attacks identified in the past against the public sector.

These attacks are very similar in nature to the Internet ones which go by the same name, Denial of Service or “DOS”. On the Internet the attackers also clog up all of the site’s available connections (which are comparable to phone lines) and when legitimate visitors try to visit the site they get an error “page cannot be displayed”, as long as the attack is maintained the website will remain blocked.

Many the victims were forced to pay up because they were afraid of losing their jobs, since the blame for the attack rested on their shoulders. Some companies also paid in order to liberate their phone lines.

If you receive a similar phone call immediately report it to the police and to callercenter.com in order to make the scammer’s telephone number public. You can also try to mitigate the risk by employing some technological countermeasures, a company called SecureLogix was apparently able to help the hospital which came under one of these attacks.

As the price of placing phone calls goes down we’re bound to see more and more of these scams in the future, so always remain vigilant and informed.

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Dial Through Fraud | Information and Prevention

Just recently, a new scam has surfaced but several business establishments including small enterprises were already victims to it.

This latest scheme is called Dial Through Fraud (DTF). As the name implied, the hackers find networks that are easily compromised and hack into the company’s telephony system using computer software. As soon as they gain access, the hackers exploit the network to make national and international calls, all at the company’s expense. In some cases, the hackers use the telephone system to call premium numbers they themselves set up to generate revenue for them while draining the funds of the company which PBX system has been hacked. The calls these hackers make are typically in the form of robocalls which are employed during nighttime or holidays when business owners are less likely to detect malicious call activity.

Aside from stealing calls, hackers may also sell the access to these hacked phone systems, advertising them as “by-pass” numbers, to other individuals. The individual can then use it to make calls to different destinations, again, all at the company’s expense. These fraudulent outgoing calls can be completed using a mobile phone and will only cost the individual a fraction of the real cost. Shadowy Toll Fraud “phone operators” that provide these services can be found by searching for terms like “bypass operators” and “calling cards” on the internet.

As a result of this scam, reports have it that most consumers have been frustrated with telephone companies which do not proactively impose warnings. Some have speculated that it is not in telecom’s interests to warn consumers about the scam since it’s the consumers who shoulder the bill anyway. Unfortunately, by the time the scam was discovered, the bill has already amounted to sometimes as high as thousands of dollars.

A survey performed by Communications Fraud Control Association estimated that hacked phone systems resulted in losses close to 5 billion dollars in 2011 alone.

Currently, a lot of companies remain unaware about DTF. So for businesses to prevent or minimize DTF attacks, here are a few simple steps to follow:

  • Consider blocking all outgoing calls to premium rate, directory enquiry and international numbers as well as paid numbers such as 900 lines. Call your telecom company and request they put a block on all such numbers.
  • Protect by putting additional security on remote access ports or disabling them altogether if remote access is not needed. Same goes for extra features, for example if you’re not using DISA then disable it altogether.
  • Regularly review all of your PBX logs to make sure no suspicious calls are being made.
  • Regularly update voicemail and DISA passwords and avoid using default combination such as 1234. Change all of the default factory access passwords and PINS after initial install.
  • Don’t unlock surplus mailboxes until they are given to a specific user.
  • Look out for manual hacking where as a scammer calls and asks to be connected to the switchboard in order to obtain an outgoing line.
  • Try to keep your system up to date in terms of security, it may be wise to review your maintenance contacts to make sure that the supplies updates the security features regularly.
  • Remember to keep your systems safe and also report any suspicious phone numbers to callercenter.com

For more information about this scam, go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p017fb0c.

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