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Can you hear me? Suspected hoax

A suspected hoax is being used as a way to try to sell call blockers.

A UK-based PR agency has been emailing media outlets, including those in Western Australia, about the ‘can you hear me? scam’.

Reports originated in the United States. It is suggested that scammers phone and say “can you hear me?” and record you saying “yes”, then send you goods you didn’t order. The idea being that when challenged over the order, scammers have a recording of you saying “yes”.

Without any real facts to back up claims of this phone scam many American media organisations have reported it and it has spread globally from there via the internet.

For this phone scam to work the scammers would need to have information like your address in advance. If it’s an invoice scam it relies on you paying through fear and they are taking a risk to send you physical goods that you could simply keep without paying.

To take any credit card or bank payment, the scammers would need to have account numbers already. You can dispute credit card transactions where you believe money has been taken without authorisation and your financial institution or card provider will investigate the alleged fraud.

A number of reliable sources, including the well-known myth debunking website Snopes, are now calling it a hoax. WA ScamNet agrees, it doesn’t make sense and we do not consider ‘can you hear me? scam’ warnings to be genuine.

We had one enquiry in early March from someone who had seen claims of the scam reported on TV and thought she had received a call where someone asked “can you hear me?”

There have been NO definitive, substantiated reports of phone calls received.

We have had NO consumer reports of unsolicited goods deliveries, or money lost, after saying “yes” to a “can you hear me?” caller.

Let’s say hypothetically this was a real scam. Our advice to thwart it would be:

If you get an out-of-the-blue call and the first thing the caller says is “can you hear me?” respond with “I can hear you” instead of the word “yes”.

As with any out-of-the-blue phone call, we say take the following steps:

  • Do not give any personal information about yourself or family.
  • Ask for, and write down, the caller’s name, the business or organisation they’re calling from and a phone number to return the call.
  • Carry out some independent checks, such as looking in the white pages or searching the details online. This is usually a good way to reveal that something is a scam
  • Call WA ScamNet on 1300 30 40 54 if you need any further advice.
  • Do not call back scammers as they may be able to obtain information which makes you vulnerable to future scam attempts.