BBB: Growing number of 'can you hear me' phone scams in Chicago area

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The Better Business Bureau said there are a growing number of cases being reported in the Chicago area of phone scams that start with the caller asking, ?Can you hear me?? (WLS)

The Better Business Bureau said there are a growing number of cases being reported in the Chicago area of phone scams that start with the caller asking, "Can you hear me?"

Patrick Grayhack works for a cybersecurity firm in Wheeling, but that didn't prevent him from falling for the ploy.

"Embarrassed and a hundred different emotions running through the head. Sort of a quick sense of panic," Grayhack said.

All because of a seemingly innocent phone call using a phrase we've all been saying for years: "Can you hear me okay?"

"It's a woman's voice and she says, 'Can you hear me? I dropped my headset.' And I responded, 'yes,' and that's when they had me," he said.

That simple "yes" was likely recorded, and after stealing Patrick's voice the next target is his money. Consumer protection experts said later the scammer will call you back and claim you own money for something you agreed to buy. Argue, and the scammer plays back your own voice saying, "yes," and then instructs you to pay via wire transfer, gift card or money order.

"This is a new scam. I've been doing this for 29 years, and this is as fast as a scam has taken off," said Steve Bernas, Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois.

Though Patrick hasn't received a second call demanding money, he's ready if he does.

"I think what it's taught me is that you need to be more careful about the phone calls you pick up," he said.

He said he answered the call in part because the caller ID showed a local number, but most of the calls originate overseas. The callers use special software to mask the numbers.

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