Eavesdropping scam: A new scam call tactic

Hiya has detected the newest scam call tactic, the eavesdropping scam. The new scam aims to get users to call back by leaving vague voicemail messages where an unknown voice is heard talking about the potential victim.

new eavesdropping scam

If the victim calls back, the scammers attempt to steal personal information or money by offering fraudulent tax relief services.

How it works

The eavesdropping scam is quite sophisticated. First, the scammer calls a potential victim from an unknown number and, since 79% of unknown calls go unanswered, leaves a voicemail. In the message, the scammer is heard talking to another person about the potential victim, claiming: “I’m trying to get ahold of them right now.”

Similar to the Wangiri Scam, the eavesdropping scam relies on the victim being so interested that they choose to call back. Once the victim returns the call, the scammer can run a variety of scams, most commonly offering fraudulent tax relief services.

The eavesdropping scam deploys both a new tactic (leaving non-descriptive voicemails to get a call back) and a new script (pretending to discuss the recipient). The scam avoids most call protection services because it does not feature any of the typical scam call markers: 1) The calls use legitimate numbers, 2) people call the numbers back, 3) the call sounds very personal despite being a mass volume robocall, and 4) the content of the voicemail is so vague that it does not include any common fraud-related keywords.

Recent growth of the eavesdropping scam

The eavesdropping scam first emerged in early 2022, marking the first time this tactic and script have been detected in a scam call campaign.

According to data from Hiya’s honeypot––a collection of unallocated phone numbers owned by Hiya in order to observe and trap scammers––the scam accounted for more than 30% of all calls at its peak. The rapid, sudden growth of this tactic indicates that it’s new and will likely become widespread.

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