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Locals targeted by 'Can you hear me?' phone scam

Posted at 10:54 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-03 08:20:28-05

The phone calls vary but the main goal is get you to reply 'yes,' and fraud prevention officials say with that response a scam is born.

It's called the "Can you hear me?" scam, where a scam artist attempts to elicit a 'yes' response from unsuspecting callers after asking "can you hear me?"

“They nearly [caught] me the other day online” said Bernard, a snowbird from Canada who is living in Fort Myers with his wife Jeanette.

The couple often travels and says they've been contacted by scammers before and Thursday it happened again; except instead of going after their banking information the scammer simply wanted Jeanette to say 'yes'.

“The telephone rang and I answered,” said Jeanette. She says the caller claimed to be someone named Jason from an unknown department store and then he became inaudible.

“Then he said ‘can you hear me clearly.; I just closed the phone,” said Jeannette. 

Not answering and hanging up is exactly what fraud prevention experts say they should've done.

Here's how the scam works: a scam artist asks the question in order to get a recording of your consent. Scammers then can turnaround and use the recording to sign you up for products or services without your knowledge and then demand payment.

Ron Martin of Fort Myers says he received a similarly shady call.  “They said can you hear me? and I did say yes,” said Martin. He answered before realizing the person on the other end was a scam artist.

“I’m a little concerned," said Martin. "A little bit, I’d be a fool not to be.”

Thursday he received two more calls but in those cases the scam artist was offering him thousands of dollars in government grants.  “Your name and number has been randomly selected by the United States government, said the scammer.”  

Martin thinks scammers are targeting him in order to tap into his disability benefits. After answering 'yes' to one scammer he's worried he may have given them the tools to do so.

“The only thing I’m worried about, if they can get a hold of it, my credit card information, said Martin.