You may have received a phone call from an unknown number only to pick up the call and realize it is a Chinese scam call. After receiving a few of these calls, you may start to wonder, where do these Chinese scam and spam calls come from? Is this caller also located in the United States? What is this caller trying to say or achieve?

From the way the audio sounds, it is likely to be an overseas call rather than a domestic call. Often the caller speaks completely in Mandarin or Chinese, which may be completely incomprehensible to most people living in the United States.

Chinese scam calls on the rise

Americans have reported that the general number of spam and scam calls received are on the rise. For some people, receiving more than 3 spam calls a day is no longer considered unusual.

However, if you are getting more than 5-6 spam calls a day, this could be a sign of something serious and you may want find out why you may be receiving spam calls in the first place.

Find out why you may be receiving so many spam calls, and what you can do to prevent spam and scam calls

Spam calls used to be illegal solicitation calls, but these specific type of Chinese scam calls have been on the rise. “I’ve received six calls in Mandarin in the last two days.” a person shared his frustration on Twitter. Another voiced her unhappiness that her "voicemails keeps getting filled up by Chinese robocallers".

The reason behind Chinese scam calls

The real purpose of the new Mandarin or Chinese scam calls is actually not to target general Americans, but are actually aimed specifically at Chinese immigrants. The scam call would usually deliver pre-recorded message that is spoken by a robot voice, and play a message claiming to be from the Chinese embassy or consulate, saying that he or she is in trouble with Chinese officials that has to rectified immediately, or that a parcel is waiting to be collected at the embassy or consulate.

Chinese scam callers claiming to be from the Chinese embassy or consulate

What usually follows is, the caller will then continue to ask for a small release fee or deposit, and asks for a credit card number or bank account number over the phone. If a the recipient does not comply, then the scam caller would usually begin to threaten the caller suggesting that the person will be in deeper trouble, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

In the city of New York alone, there has been an estimated 35 cases of innocent residents being cheated of over $3 million dollars,  according to National Public Radio.

Why do Chinese scam calls have US phone numbers?

Chinese phone scammers use a technique known as 'phone number spoofing', where it can assume the phone number of another person or from any number other than their real number.

With phone number spoofing, they can use a familiar number such as from the same or nearby area code, or even the actual number of the Chinese embassy, which the Federal Communications Commission has launched an alert.

Learn how you can perform phone number spoofing for yourself to protect your real identity.

Why do Chinese scam calls target you despite you not being a Chinese speaker?

Why are you still getting these calls then even as a non-Chinese or non-Mandarin speaker? The answer is these scammers usually do not even have any knowledge on the people they are calling.

Chinese scam callers make use of some sophisticated phone system that allows them to make a large number of calls at one time with robot callers that work through VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Using VOIP to make calls means that they pay virtually close to nothing for each call, giving them the advantage to make thousands of calls each day.

Chinese scam callers use sophisticated phone set-ups

They would obtain large sets of phone numbers by buying phone number lists from third parties. If you are guilty of giving out your phone number freely, it is also likely that your number is on one of these lists.

Where are Chinese scam callers from?

If you have always wondered where these Chinese scam callers come from, you will finally know. Chinese scam callers actually do not come from a specific place such as in China or in the United States, but have been known to operate from many different parts of the world including China, Hong Kong and Macau.

For example, the famous "Macau scam" is a Chinese scam which actually originated from Macau. In the "Macau Scam", scam callers call to warn victims that they have been suspected of money laundering and need to transfer some funds to a bank account to be cleared of the wrong doing.

Chineses scam callers syndicates have been found even in different countries such as Taiwan and Malaysia. The increase in Chinese crackdown on scam callers may be a contributing factor to this phenomenon. In 2014, the Malaysian government successfully arrested a scam call syndicate operating out of 3 houses in Klang Valley Malaysia.

Chinese scam call syndicate arrested in Klang Valley in Malaysia

How can I avoid Chinese scam callers once and for all?

A hard and fast way to put an end to Chinese scam callers is to get a new phone number. However, it is often not easy to switch phone numbers with the inconvenience and hassle behind it.

Using a second phone number may be a better idea, and this would be what we recommend you to use for everything other than important services, friends and family. Giving out second phone number rather than your real number can significantly decrease the risk of your phone number ending up in calling lists and in the hands of Chinese scam call syndicates. Furthermore, they help to keep away other unwanted callers such as telemarketers and solicitors too.

In the event where you need to receive a verification code or provide a number for signing up a new service or membership, you second phone numbers also help or act as disposable numbers.

Avoiding and putting a stop to Chinese scam callers is not something that can be done overnight, but with good personal privacy and phone number privacy practices, this can be prevented and reduced.