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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Robocalls continue throughout San Gabriel Valley

    By Brittany Snow

    Staff Writer

      For the past one and a half years, people in the San Gabriel Valley and New York City have been bombarded by scam robocalls targeted at people who speak Mandarin.

      These calls normally consist of a female voice telling the individual that the call is from the Chinese Consulate, and that they have an important package addressed to the person, waiting to be picked up at the consulate. The message then proceeds to state that the package is linked to a criminal investigation, and that the situation could be resolved through a money transfer or credit card payment.

      Between December 2017 and February, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 350 reports from victims of robo scams. Losses from these reports combined for a total of $40 million, an average of $164,000 of loss per person, according to a report released on March 28.

      There were numerous incidents reported, coming from 27 different states, with 35 percent of victims from California and New York.

      On average, many of the calls received come from business and mortgage loan spam numbers. Last April, there was an estimated total of 13.6 million calls made, with 1.8 million of the population affected.

      The phone numbers used are often made to seem like they are coming from a number with the same area code as the receiving caller. According to the Better Business Bureau, con-artists believe that a person is more likely to pick up a phone call from a number with an area code they might recognize.

      San Gabriel Councilman Chin Ho Liao fears that a large group of victims are undocumented immigrants who are not reporting the crime, in fear of exposing their status.

      “Those are the vulnerable ones,” Liao said in an interview with Pasadena Star-News. “They don’t want to reach out to law enforcement because they don’t want to expose their identities, their immigration status, so they don’t get themselves into trouble.”

      An estimated 26 billion robocalls were made to cell phones across the country in 2018.

      According to Patty Poss, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission, the best thing to do would be to hang up or ignore these calls. The same goes for any other form of payment requests, by email and social media, including Chinese platforms like WeChat.

      “If you have business with the real Chinese Consulate and you’re worried, contact the real Consulate by looking up your local office’s number,” stated Poss. “But, whatever you do, don’t give out your information, or your money, to anyone who contacts you out of the blue.”

      As of now, there does not seem to be an end to these calls, but one could limit them by blocking and reporting these calls to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or the FBI.


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    Robocalls continue throughout San Gabriel Valley