Thursday, 8 July 2010

Something has to be done

In the last 7 hours we have had over 330 call attempts to numbers in our office DDI block alone from junk callers. This is approaching 1 call attempt per minute.

It is not legal - but WTF can we do? Suggestions?

48 comments:

  1. Telcos should make the calls traceable through their networks. Unfortunately when they originate overseas or through voip it is a lot more difficult. However, perhaps it could be argued that the carrier (probably BT) is profiting from the proceeds of crime (calls to numbers listed on TPS) and therefore are somewhat liable for them.

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  2. OK, over 800 of our DDi block now has ACR set to "nasty", a new feature.

    It *answers* the call and says that you are a coward if you do not release your number. It also plays a DTMF2 digit to try and tie up one of their operators if possible.

    I am watching the logs now

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  3. Arrrg, the junk calls stopped at 6pm. I guess the operators go home.

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  4. OK, recoding these calls. 800+ honey traps.

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  5. OK, first attempt, message too long and calls end after 22 seconds. So revised message. DTMF2 after 20 seconds so we hold the call as long as we can first. Then a message that starts with me dropping the phone, etc...

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  6. Yah, calls lasting 1:10 now.

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  7. Yah!

    http://www.me.uk/2010-07-08T19:49:07.mp3

    http://www.me.uk/2010-07-08T19:50:02.mp3

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  8. Those mp3 files sound so badly distorted I can't tell what it being said... Are they meant to?

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  9. I can't believe how many junk calls you get!

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  10. Those messages are fine - some players don't like them - must get t the bottom of it - try a different player?

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  11. Mark, Debt Clinic, based in Brighton. Hmm.

    I think you could manage to string the message out a bit longer though!

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  12. Ok, I have a much longer message now. Waiting for next call.

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  13. I have dreamt about doing something like this for years!

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  14. OK, the calls start at 10am it seems. Two so far, both a minute long.

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  15. Classic - we have got 5 now, and one actually stayed on nearly 3 minutes and was still trying to talk to me even after I said it was a recording LOL.

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  16. Over a dozen now, and three are over 2:30 which means they have listened to me a lot...

    They are starting to be only 30 seconds now though, so may be time to record a new message...

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  17. OK, 15 in the first hour, not counting those that hung up within 10 seconds which are probably genuine wrong numbers. One even listed to the whole 4 minutes of my rambling. I've forwarded them to the ICO. Won't do any good I am sure.

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  18. Might be funny to connect them to each other if you get two calling at once...

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  19. He's still trying to talk to me after nearly 3 minutes... http://www.me.uk/2010-07-09T10:24:16.mp3

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  20. This is interesting... My idea (that I posted about ages ago) was for a system that reacted to silence and sent the next prompt ('uh-huh,' 'that sounds interesting,' or whatever). In fact you seem to be able to keep them going for quite a long time just with a carefully phrased message.

    As you say, forwarding to the ICO probably won't do much good. I suspect they're getting swamped; they used to be responsive at least, but recently I've sent them complaints and have had nothing back. It also doesn't help that they've taken down the HTML complaint form, so now you have to fill in a form in a Word document. That doesn't work too well if you're on Linux.

    Alan: Yes that could be fun. I've always been tempted to get the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses to come round at the same time, so they could decide between themselves who is right. :-)

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  21. They are getting wise to it - got one that had "got another one of those things" before hanging up - still a minute long call.

    I need a new message...

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  22. Maybe you should include something in your recording like "Oh and we should probably tell you that this is being recorded and uploaded to www.somewebsite.com" but create one specifically for this purpose, Then when if they try to go there you get their IP's and have a better chance of tracing them somehow?

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  23. I have added "this call is recorded to the start".

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  24. A selection of 20-30 messages would take longer for them to figure out. The real trick would be to get them to reveal the company name and number somehow.

    Reporting them does nothing, but a bit of public ridicule "x corp are using illegal phone spamming methods. Would you buy from spammers? Neither would we" can do some damage to their reputation - and as it's a true statement there's nothing their lawyers can do.

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  25. New message... http://www.me.uk/2010-07-09T12:30:55.mp3

    I hope we are worrying them.

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  26. Ah, they have spotted that I changed it :-)

    http://www.me.uk/2010-07-09T12:39:24.mp3

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  27. Classic, I have managed to keep them in a "conversation" for over a minute!!!

    http://www.me.uk/2010-07-09T12:54:01.mp3

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  28. BT are in the junk phone call business too, they sell their number lists to telemarketers. On my BT number I get loads of junk phone calls. Solution to stop this: I use VOIP (sipgate) with a 0870 number (sipgate don't sell their lists). Zero junk phone calls.

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  29. Bloody brilliant! When I have time I "put them on hold" and play some tunes at them whilst periodically asking them to hang on a bit longer whilst "I go find something" related to their call.

    I always wanted to do the recorded message thing. Looking forward to seeing how this progresses.

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  30. This is the new 419eater - you, sir, are a hero. Well done!

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  31. I'd like to know how to forward calls from my Virgin Media number to one of these honeypots: since moving to Virgin, with the same number, which is registered with TPS, I've got dozens of these crap calls. If calls to the honeypot are making you money, I'm quite happy to send you my junk callers.

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  32. Love it!
    Writing from Spain, I got an average of 1 of those crap calls a day in my home phone. I'd love for someone to do something like this here!

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  33. Record a batch of different messages with different people's voices from the office then you could sell this as a solution for businesses to deal with their SPAM callers.

    Another approach would be to register a premium rate number and set the recording to say "Call this 0900 number for service, this number is no longer in use" or something like that. Hopefully the morons phone your 0900 number and go to the honeypot at their expense :)

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  34. It's lovely how the recording says that "we're hoping to tie up your time as much as possible" and the operator just says "yes... okay... okay..." rather than hanging up. :P

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  35. Please keep in mind that "telemarketers" are humans too and more than likely it's the only job they can find in this horrible economy. Please don't be nasty to them but do be nasty to their exploitative employers.

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  36. Err, does that argument for all people that are engaged in a life of crime and working for criminals? Like house burglars or muggers?

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  37. This is quite brilliant! Hilarious messages - keep it up - and I'm with the guy that thinks you should make 30 or 40 different ones (different voices too or use a pitch changer) to keep them from picking up on it.

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  38. Hurrah! You are a hero. Please establish a non-profit organization to do more of this type of thing and set up a PayPal account. I will personally send you a large donation, and will convince all my friends to do likewise.

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  39. Think about using a women voices at different ages - child, housewife w/children, grandmother watching her shows. Maybe one where wife is calling for her husband to pick up another phone - but he's off playing World of Warcraft. Use THAT idea to queue up two or more operators and have the "wife" complain he's online all the time.

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  40. being a telecomsprovider, it means the callerid is available to you. (callerid is only withheld from the end user). So what's stopping you filing a complaint with ofcom??

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  41. Sadly we are not getting caller I'd for these calls or we would have.
    It is all too easy to inject calls in to the phone system without a valid caller I'd these days.

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  42. I agree with Tim's comment that you shouldn't be nasty or rude to them. Specifically, I don't like the part where they are called morons - by an automaton, no less!

    Apart from that, this is a fascinating experiment. The recordings you posted indicate that the human telemarketers are starting to recognize these calls ("shit, he's changed it"). Will an arms race ensue? If they have the technical nous, they could equip their telemarketers with a "log number as honeytrap" feature. How long would your four million numbers last?

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  43. Same here with the nasty or rude, their company is the one breaking the law.

    What I applaud is that you have now removed any doubt for this employee. They are now an accomplice in this crime. From that, the person can not wiggle out of what they are taking part in.

    For me, that is the greatest part of this "honeypot". You are making them accountable and unable to deny that they are as guilty as their company. That part is wonderful.

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  44. bo-ho, you called them a moron, it still makes their employer loose money. If you ridicule the employees they will continue to quit, and drive up cost to keep or hire new ones, and thus you still win.

    ROCK ON! your on SlashDot, use it, SlashDot readers help with your ideas!

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  45. Hi RevK, thank you for providing me with a pensive smile on a cold SA Sunday. We have the same problems here in SA, only it is made legitimate by the all-too-powerful Banks who believe they have the right to pester customers with anonymous junk calls. I wrote about it on my blog at http://www.leonuys.co.za/may-i-please/

    Regards, Leon

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  46. Brilliant, sir, brilliant. Here in the States, similar robocaller practices are illegal. I caught a local newspaper doing this once, talked to the call center manager (who claimed that the autodialing computer wasn't illegal), then talked to the local District Attorney citing the Federal communications restrictions. Great fun to be a crusading citizen.

    I recently was getting calls from a Amazon "payment processor" (really a collections firm), every day at 8 AM, but for 10 days straight, no one picked up, regardless of what I said. With their number blocked, and no one picking up, I have no idea what they were achieving.

    I worked at a firm that diverted all spam and phishing email to the mailbox of a totally fictional Richard White (that's right ... Dick White), who autoreplied with a standard vacation message ("I'm out of the office at this time..."). White also had a voice mailbox with the usual greeting, so any unsolicited marketing message was routed with, "Oh, Mr. White takes care of all these issues, let me transfer you." The mailbox was cleared out regularly. The fictional Mr. White would routinely get messages like, "Dick, hi, you may remember we met at Comdex last March," or "Richard, I'm returning your call from last week about...." Amazing.

    Anyway, wonderful technical trick you're performing, but please do remember that the poor sod on the phone is just an employee, and has neither control or say in how the calls are placed prior to being connected to their headset. I would start by identifying "your call has come to this voice line because ... the firm you're working for is violating the Privacy and Communications statute [and quote the statute number specifically], sorry to punish you for your employer's malfeasance, but...." They're humans trodding through their workday just as you and I are, they're just doing it for a worse employer. :)

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  47. This is pure genius.

    You'd think that they would simply remove you from their calling lists, after taking up so much of their time?

    This has seriously made my Sunday morning, listening to the recordings with a massive mug of coffee.

    Keep it up :)

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