The average person knows when they get an automated phone call from someone at "Credit Card Services" who asks for their card info that it's probably a scam. What the average person doesn't know is that there's a fairly easy way to get revenge on the scammers using the power of Google.
This morning, it came again: a robo-call from Kent, Washington -- at 253-246-8503. The recording was of a chipper woman saying she was from "Credit Card Services" with an "important message" about my credit card.
This is perhaps the fifteenth or twentieth such call I've gotten on my cell phone. I've never pressed one to get more information; I always hang up. Even though it sounds like an obvious scam, even though I'm on the do-not-call list, even though they are illegally calling my cell, I've never bothered to look into it.
. . . Time to drop the hammer. And I'm sending up the Popehat Signal, because it's time for you, ungentle readers, to help. We're crowdsourcing this motherfucker.
White, who wrote an eight-chapter guide to identifying and exposing fraud, wants his blog's army of readers to use methods like writing scam-alert articles with optimized Google rankings to make the swindlers known for what they are, and in turn, make it no longer profitable for them to continue scamming.
Speaking to Seattle Weekly phone, White says that it's amazing what a little research and writing can do.
"My number one message is that everyone, by using Google, can quickly look into something that looks fishy, and say 'you're right, it is a scam,'" White says. "Scammers live in the margins, and if even one one in ten thousand people write about them, it makes a gigantic difference in their success rate."
Previously White had targeted UST Development, a fraud operation that essentially sent people fake invoices for services they never ordered or received, while at the same time refusing to pay many of their employees.
Today, a Google search for UST Development brings up results overwhelming dominated by warnings of the company and its head, David Bell, being shameless scam artists.
For the possibly-Washington-based 253-246-8503 scam, White says that a similar method could help eliminate the bastards, not only through making their intentions known, but potentially through criminal prosecution.
"If you present a package tied up neatly with a bow, prosecutors are more likely to do something about it," White says. "If you can find people who are direct victims and do some of the work for them, there's a lot more chance that prosecutors will go after the scammers."