Holding iPhone
Crooked call centres used to seal the deal by speaking in the target's native languageReuters

Crooked call centres are being set up to help cybercriminals steal your personal and financial details, no matter what language you speak. The call centres charge a fee per call and can be used by foreign hackers to call your bank up, pretending to be you.

Cybercriminals who make a living through identity theft, dating scams and online con games struggle to succeed when their target speaks a different language. But helping them are a growing number of translation call centres, taking the criminals' requests and making calls in the foreign language on their behalf.

Detailed in a blog post by renowned cyber security expert Brian Krebs, identity theft scammers can now "outsource calls to multilingual men and women who can be hired to close the deal." Customers upload information about their targets to the call centres, which then employ a worker fluent in the correct language to call up the target's bank or credit provider, or in the case of dating scams, the victim themselves.

CallMeBaby criminal call centre advert
Advert for crooked Russian call centre CallMeBaby promises calls in multiple languages for £7 per callScreenshot via Brian Krebs

One of the oldest and most popular cybercriminal call centres is CallMeBaby, Krebs reports. The site helps crooks with a variety of crimes, but specialises in helping criminals cash out dating scams, where a target has been set up with a fake site user and will be lured into sending them money.

CallMeBaby charges $10 (£7) per English call and $12 for calls in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish; the site has male and female staff who are available for impersonations during US business hours (5pm to 3am in Moscow, where the service is based).

Calls which need to be made more quickly, or in an emergency – such as when a bank is calling to check a recent large purchase and the card owner needs to be quickly impersonated – are more expensive, the actual price is unavailable.

"Sparta", who runs the website, offers reassurances of doing "everything to make your call as quick as possible," but warns that the customer will be charged twice if a second call needs to be made to confirm a transaction or complete a scam. As well as promising to deliver a good service, these crooked websites, Krebs found, rely on "catchy advertisements and graphics design to differentiate themselves from other services".

A solution to these phone-based scams, as Krebs points out, is voice biometrics technology, which builds a unique voice 'fingerprint' of a known criminal, which would then be detected when they called up the bank pretending to be someone else.