'Can you hear me?' Scam Resurging in Some Areas

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — “Can you hear me?” Those who answer “yes” over the phone may fall victim to a scam resurging in some areas.


The scam centers around a recorded call in which someone poses as a business or agency, such as a security company, cruise line or the Social Security Administration. The suspect may “spoof” their number so it appears like it is a local call.

After the introduction, the recording asks the victim if they can hear the caller clearly. Victims who answer “yes” may be recorded on the line. The scammer can use that recording to sign you up for a product or service and then demand payment. If you refuse, the suspect may use your recorded “yes” response to confirm your purchase agreement, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Suspects can take it a step further and try to get the recorded “yes” response by asking victims if they want to be placed on the Do Not Call Registry. The BBB wants to remind people the federal agency in charge of that registry never solicits over the phone.


Phil Catlett with the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan says while no one has reportedly lost money to the scam in West Michigan, more people are filing complaints about the scheme in southeast Michigan.

Monday morning, the most recent complaint listed on the local BBB’s scam tracker was a “Can you hear me now?” situation.

“(The) caller asked if I could hear him. I replied ‘Yes’. He (recorded voice) said I had won a cruise. I then hung up. (The) call lasted 20 seconds and occurred on Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 3:17 pm,” the complaint from Livonia reads.

Catlett said there were a lot of “can you hear me” complaints in upstate New York Friday.

Catlett said while there are no reports of losses in West Michigan, victims won’t know for a while – until something unusual shows up on a bank or credit card statement.


People who fall victim to the scheme can still take action. Catlett recommends you monitor your billing statements and request more information from the company that billed you if you come across a questionable charge. Customers can then file a fraud complaint and possibly recover their money if they catch the charge in time.

Catlett also recommends victims report their case to the Federal Trade Commission and BBB. Catlett says law enforcement agencies rely on the BBB to determine how big a problem a scam might be so they can alert the community and investigate.

While it’s difficult to protect yourself from this scam, the best way is to hang up.

Catlett says customers can also request to be taken off data brokers’ lists, which is where the scammers may be getting the phone numbers they call.

Another possible source of phone number information is the dark web, which is not reachable by conventional online methods and is not tracked by search engines.