The scam aims to get users to call back; Initial operation was detected and stopped by Hiya’s Adaptive AI
SEATTLE - April 05, 2022 - Hiya, the leading call performance management cloud, 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. If the victim calls back, the scammers attempt to steal personal information or money by offering fraudulent tax relief services. Hiya’s Adaptive AI successfully detected this new tactic and was able to shut down the initial operation within 24 hours by working with a third-party service provider.
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.
Stopping the Scam
While the scam may evade detection from other call protection services, the speed and intelligence of Hiya’s Adaptive AI resulted in Hiya flagging more than 90% of these calls from Day 1. The rapid response time is powered by Hiya’s Real-Time Intelligence Service, a key capability of Adaptive AI that enables Hiya to detect new scams based on their tactics, even on the very first call. On average, numbers making the Eavesdropping Scam call were flagged in less than 12 call attempts. After successfully detecting and flagging these calls, Hiya collaborated with a third-party service provider to shut down the initial operation in 24 hours, effectively dropping the volume of Eavesdropping Scam calls to Hiya’s honeypot from 30% to 0% overnight.
Impact of STIR/SHAKEN
STIR/SHAKEN is a critical tool in stopping illegal callers but continues to show its limits in the highly-dynamic, ever-changing scam call ecosystem. More than half of the Eavesdropping Scam calls were able to attain levels B and C attestation, meaning that the call originator was partially authenticated. While Hiya’s service uses the STIR/SHAKEN signal, it’s one of many signals used by Hiya’s models to strengthen its ability to go beyond spoofed calls to detect scam calls as well.
From Hiya CEO Alex Algard:
"Catching this new and emerging scam tactic shows the power of Hiya’s Adaptive AI capabilities. Because our models are self-learning and focus on tactics, we can detect new scam risks in real-time and, in this case, shut down the operation before it reaches most users. At Hiya, our mission is to fully eradicate spam and fraud calls from the voice network, and the Eavesdropping Scam is the latest example of how we’re outsmarting scammers and protecting users."
To learn more, visit www.hiya.com.
Hiya is trusted by global businesses, carriers, and consumers to provide secure, engaging connections and stop unwanted calls. Built on the world’s leading Voice Performance Platform, Hiya connects businesses with their customers, helps carriers secure their networks, and protects people from spam and fraud calls. Hiya’s SaaS applications, Hiya Connect and Hiya Protect, serve more than 200 million users, power services like AT&T Call Protect and Samsung Smart Call, and deliver voice performance insights to businesses across the globe. Learn more at www.hiya.com.
April 5, 2022