Fighting back against phone scammers with glitter bombs

Glitterbomb Trap Catches Phone Scammer (who gets arrested)

YouTuber Mark Rober (famous for his videos about obstacle courses for ninja squirrels, filling a swimming pool with jello, and informative videos about the Perserverance Mars Rover) is a social media star with millions of followers – young and old.

So it’s great to see that his latest video raising awareness of the activities of phone scammers, who frequently trick the unwary out of tens of thousands of dollars.

But it could be boring to just make a regular video about this modern scourge, so Mark Rober livens things up by covering the scammers – with glitter and fart spray.

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The social engineering used by scammers is simple, but it works – fooling the unwary into installing remote access software such as LogMeIn, TeamViewer, and AnyDesk.

Victims are then duped into believing they have received into their bank account a larger refund than intended (in the example shown in the video, some simple editing of the HTML within a browser’s rendering of a banking page makes it look like $20,000 has been mistakenly transferred into the victim’s account).

The scammer then preys on their victim’s kindness, pleading for the excess money (which has not really been received in the bank account at all) be sent to them urgently via FedEx or UPS.

However, the package containing the money will often really be going to a mule, using an Airbnb address as a temporary delivery point.

As Mark Rober points out, most of the victims of these types of scams are elderly. You can do your part by explaining how these scams work to your vulnerable friends and family, and sitting them down in front of the video.

Hopefully your loved ones will get a good laugh out of watching the video too. I suspect it’s a lot less funny if they’ve fallen victim to a telephone scam like this in the past, and lost their life savings.

Well done to Mark, and his scam-fighting YouTube allies Jim Browning and Scammer Payback for making life harder for these organised criminal gangs and – in some cases – bringing them to justice.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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