Brian Feeney

Anatomy of a Scam Call

I just received a "scam likely" call from the Netherlands. First time I remember getting spam calls from outside the country, and my parents just so happen to be in Amsterdam today. Provides a super weird clue to how scam callers designate who gets called and from what numbers. I knew spammers have email contact lists from purchased/stolen data lists. I hadn't considered that phone spam calls would have the same kind of origin.

What must be happening here is that one of my parents' numbers are in a spammer's list, and the spammers know where they're currently located. Creepy. Sending me a phone call from the Netherlands today is supposed to catch me worried that something has happened to my parents, that I would instinctively answer out of concern.

Most of my scam calls come from Indiana. Before now, I thought that was because I have an Indiana area code for this long-held phone number. Now I suspect those calls are somehow attached to friend or family who have been caught in a data breach somewhere.

I'm also assuming this was automated, and not a person manually cross checking data tables. Scam artists are clever and always improving their methods. Automation. Location. Batch calling. I knew better than to answer this call, but I can't say the same for any of the older folks in my parent's contact list. One of my senior family friends was recently scammed out of a thousand dollars or so. I wish I could do more to protect the people I know. There's only so much you can do.

April 12, 2023