FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --If you answer the phone from an unknown number you may hear, "Can you hear me okay?" But the wrong answer could land you in the middle of an elaborate scam.
The Better Business Bureau is warning that it's part of a hi-tech scam that is increasing. The right answer to that question is no answer at all because saying "yes" could cost you big time.
The call starts out sounding pretty innocent, a friendly voice acts like they're having phone problems.
"And when I came on it was a gentleman, nice voice, and he says, 'Can you hear me?'" said Mary Kuczborski, who was targeted for the scam.
Kuczborski didn't give the scammer what he wanted, which is just a single word on tape. A 'yes' or even an 'okay' is good enough. Consumer protection experts say once he gets the word recorded, the scammer will call you back and claim you owe money on products or services you said you'd buy.
If you deny it, he'll play back your own voice as evidence you agreed. The scammer then demands you pay up via wire transfer, gift card or money order.
The Better Business Bureau says calls started pouring in on the east coast last week and now they're hitting California too. A woman in Merced is one of the latest victims. She said "yes" over the weekend.
"We haven't seen any money lost in our region yet, but there'll be reports soon," Kayleena Speakman with the BBB said. "I'm sure of it."
The financial damage could be delayed, hitting phone bills or utility bills or, even worse, if scammers have hit you before.
"If they have all your information on hand because of a data breach, if you say 'yes', they'll charge your account and then they have the recording to use against you," Speakman said.
Experts say the best advice is to just not answer calls from numbers you don't know. And if you ever hear that question "Can you hear me?", hang up immediately.
To report a scam, contact the BBB here.