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Epic reverse prank call on telemarketer that can’t hang up

October 16th, 2010 · 8 Comments

One of the keys to effective scambaiting is keeping the scammers focused on you instead of some actual hapless victim. Telemarketers will usually hang up if you seem resistant, figuring they will just get the next sucker. But today, I received a call on one of my honeypot phone numbers that blew me away. It started out pretty normally, with a robodialer recorded message announcing “this is Michael with WCA clearing house” and offering me an opt-out option (which, based on my experience with WCA, does nothing whatsoever). Naturally I am not actually interested in opting out of future calls, in fact, I am very much interested in receiving all the calls they can throw at me. It just wastes their time and effort, and gives me an opportunity to be an obnoxious jerk like the readers of this website seem to love. So, I pressed ‘1’ to be connected with my offer. The resulting fracas can be heard here:

Within seconds, I knew an epic prank call was on my hands. A man with a thick Indian accent informed me I had been selected to receive a $200 gas card for “being a good customer” (of what, I am still not sure). I immediately replied that I didn’t believe there was any way he could ship $200 worth of gas over to me from India. We spent minutes bantering back and forth about his ethnic background, his immigration status, the call center industry in India, and the language barrier resulting from his thick accent. Then I realized after about 10 minutes – he couldn’t hang up on me. I scrambled to get my call recording setup in order, and after over 25 minutes of torture already, I managed to record another 23 minutes! The offending company is called “American Auto Benefits” and a quick Google search reveals plenty of dissatisfied customers. It seems that the $200 gas card / gas vouchers are really some kind of rebate, and that the rest of the “benefits” of this program are nothing you couldn’t get for a fraction of the price from AAA or other reputable organizations for motorists. Ironically, although the telemarketer claims at one point that I was selected because I’m a Visa/MasterCard cardholder, he fails to mention that many credit card benefit packages include roadside assistance at no charge! He even goes on to say that it’s the victims fault for agreeing to use the service.

Unlike many telemarketers, American Auto Benefits actually has a website, although after looking at it you may still be wondering what exactly it is that they sell. Like many spammers and scammers, they have opted to use a private domain registration, and also have multiple websites with the same or similar content (see below). Although the telemarketer said repeatedly earlier in the call that he was from Phoenix, AZ, they publish an address on their website: 2643 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Suite 1560-411 Clearwater, FL 33759. Not surprisingly, this is the address of a UPS store (i.e. the “business address” is a PO box). But mysteriously, the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations has no record of a business named American Auto Benefits.

The Better Business Bureau, on the other hand, has two listings for American Auto Benefits, and they rate them “D”. The BBB page also provides some information on the principals of the company. The first page for “American Auto Benefits” lists their location as 11125 Park Blvd., Suite 104-344, Seminole, FL 33772, but does not include a rating. Unsurprisingly, this address is another UPS store PO box. The second listing is for “Odyssey World Travel & My Discount Savings Network”. Odyssey World Travel also has a website that happens to include virtually the same information as the American Auto Benefits website. The address for this company is listed as 10341 66th St N Ste 382 Pinellas Park, FL 33782-2306, which is yet another postal box service provided at a store called “Goin Postal Pinellas Park“. Both BBB pages list the websites and phone numbers, and the American Auto Benefits BBB page also names “Shawn Davis” as a principal. The investigation into this matter continues and a follow-up article will almost certainly appear here soon.

We’re still digging for the real truth here, but when you’re done listening to this call I think you’ll agree: few things are as satisfying as hearing a telemarketer beg you to hang up on them.

Have you received a call from “WCA” or “American Auto Benefits”? Have you been victimized by American Auto Benefits? Share your story below!

Recap of associated Companies / Names

American Auto Benefits

American Auto Discounts

Odyssey World Travel & My Discount Savings Network

Tags: Spam and Telemarketing · Telephones

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jonny // Oct 22, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I enjoyed this call very much..

  • 2 Ashley // Oct 28, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    I had talk to two different Indian employees of American Auto Benefits group today, 10/28/10. Like you I love to talk to these kinds of people on the phone, I have nothing better to do because I work at home. Any way the call started off with telling me that I had just won $200.00 in gas vouchers, coupons to great dinners, and road side assistants. It took 5 min in to the conversation to even find out where this prize was coming from, that’s when he told me American Auto Benefits and that his name was Sam Miller…. (I am so sure, my husbands name is Sam, a very common first name, and Miller, well we all drink beer HaHa).
    The fun part of this conversation stated when he wanted me to pay $2.00 for shipping and handling fees on a $200.00 gas card and other promotions, or at least that is what I think he wanted I could not understand his English very well. Half of are conversation was me asking him to repeat his self. I told him that I was not interested in giving him my debt card number for $2.00, and that he could send me a bill for the shipping and handling fees or just send me $198.00 in gas vouchers instead (HaHa). He told me that he did not need any of my personal information just the seven digests on front any of my cards I might have.
    I then told him that I did not have my debt credit card on me, that my husband has it with him at work. Then he told me that I was lying and that I had my card on me and was looking at it right now, that I just did not want to give it to him. I agreed with him and told Sam that yes I just did not want to give him my number.
    It was a very long conversation, about 45mins long, and there was a lot said. In short I told him to call back latter so that I would have a chance to speak with my husband about this offer. Lets see if he calls back tonight after 5:00 pm

  • 3 j marsden // Mar 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    If you call back # that calls you then press 5, then 2 it will cancel

  • 4 Greg // Apr 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I believe i just got a call from these guys or a very similar operation. He had automatically assumed i was some other person, but never bothered to ask if that was who he was actually speaking to. When i asked the name of his company, he stalled and then changed the subject. I asked again and he finally told me “american auto production”. He insisted I had earned a $100 walmart card for a reason I don’t know, and that i would just need to pay $2.95 to get it. I asked him if he could just deduct that amount from the card, but of course he couldn’t. He asked for a visa/mastercard number to verify “he was speaking to the right person”. I made it clear i did not want to incur any charges on my credit card, but he insisted it was only for verification purposes. I gave him a fake card number, then he tells me my card was declined. I pretended to be angry that he attempted to charge my card without authorization. After a long back and forth and me asking more questions about his company, the call was suddenly disconnected. Obviously these guys are crooks.

  • 5 Scott // Apr 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    These guys are a SCAM!!!! Thank you for helping to expose this scum. I noticed a recurring charge to my wifes debit card from American Auto Discount. I repoted this as fraud to wells fargo and opened a claim. After a few days Wells asked me to contact the vendor to request a refund. I called them and they were real pushy. Then a thick accented man on the other end told me that “Your wife had accepted to be a member” and that he had a recording of her on the phone accepting the service agreement. He said he had a recording of her accepting and but when he tried play it there was nothing. They did a partial refund and I had to contact them again to get the rest of my money back which they say they are sending via a check.Thank you obnoxious jerk for giving them grief.

    [Obnoxious Jerk's reply: truly my pleasure.]

  • 6 Lee // Jun 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    I had an unauthorized charge to my check card from “CV 8774723388 Pinellas Park, FL”, Saturday morning, June 25th, 2011. This same morning, and the reason I checked my account, is I received multiple calls, until I answered, from 312-878-9546. I ended up talking to two different guys with heavy Indian accents. They told me the I had signed up for a trial subscription to their service back in January. Due to a fire in their facility they were just now sending out my package, which is supposedly on the way already. Thing is, they had my card info, and wanted me to verify my personal info to get my confirmation number so I could cancel my account or continue later. Without the confirmation I could not access my account, or even receive the package, or cancel my membership. I asked a lot of questions, and the more I asked the more irrate and demanding these guys got. I finally hung up and that is when I checked my account and saw the charge. I cancelled my card. How did they get my card number???

    [Editor's reply: Hard to say. You noted that it was a check card - is that correct? Check cards are more desirable to crooks because chargebacks are harder for the consumer, especially if they can obtain your PIN.]

  • 7 Luxomni // Apr 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I enjoyed your recording and was actually sorry when it ended. I just wanted it to go on and on. It reminds me the raisins in the bottle trick to catch monkeys. Once their hand is in the bottle they can’t or won’t let go. I have been doing it too (but not recording, I should) Unlike you, I try to let them hold out hope that I am a sucker. They usually end up hanging up on me soomer that that. Keep up the good work .

  • 8 Frank Moss // Mar 21, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Telemarketer for years, and I have to say that was hilarious. When women call me I’ll give them the lead if they aren’t selling anything(Quote, Survey). If they try and sell something I flirt with them. Its especially funny where they are from India. They get so flustered and can’t hang up. The guys I just give them a hard time. I have got two different companies to blacklist my number this way, and now I don’t receive anymore calls. I Win!

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