Low Orbit Railgun Assembly
L.O.R.A. is a free (as in both beer, and freedom) tool, which was written to make it so that anyone can strike back against illegal telephone scammers; particularly the sort that impersonate legitimate corporate identities, and fool olds and stupids into calling them, at which point they typically tell the victim that for one reason or another, the victim must purchase something or verify their credit card number or whatever the case may be.
- Sometimes they'll squat on search results for "<company name> customer service phone number", and have the number to a scam call-center in the results tag-line, or pay to be put above the organic results.
- Sometimes they'll just pop up an ad on another, otherwise legitimate site.
- Sometimes they'll send you a phishing email with a link to a site with this sort of thing embedded into it.
- And sometimes they'll just call you directly.
Whatever the case may be, once you know how to call them, you can use L.O.R.A. to initiate a flood of calls into their call-center, so that:
- They won't be able to tell your anti-scammer robo-force from the actual victims, meaning that their overall profit goes way down, since instead of 1 out of 10 calls resulting in someone being scammed out of $200, it's now more like 1 out of 100 or more.
- They will have fewer available lines (if any) with which to make outbound calls, OR receive inbound calls, meaning that their overall capability to scam people is severely crippled.
- Since they're paying a trunk-line provider per minute per line, it costs them a bunch of extra money to operate, making their "business" less profitable overall. Which is good, because their business is scamming old ladies and idiots.
L.O.R.A. is free to download, but since it relies on using a SIP trunking provider (specifically, Twilio), it isn't free to operate. It is surprisingly cheap, though. Twilio's prices may vary, but according to their knowledgebase, we're talking about $0.01 (about 1.3 cents) per minute for outbound calls using Twilio, plus about $1 per outbound line per month.
So, if you want to be able to lock up 5 lines at any given moment, and you expect to be actually connected for about 2 out of every 5 minutes per line, your total cost would be $5 per month to have those 5 outbound lines, plus $18.72 for every twelve hours that you lock up their cell center with those 5 lines.
Less than twenty bucks to take a serious bite out of a call-center full of illegal phone scammers for a full day isn't bad at all.
Setting up Twilio
2. Next, verify your account with a phone number. Once this is done, you should have a trial account setup.
3. At the top-right of the page, you should then see a big "Upgrade" link. Clicking on it will allow you to enter a credit card to use, or set up PayPal. In order to prevent somehow accidentally over-charging myself, I use a Privacy virtual credit card with a monthly limit on it, which I can adjust if needed. This card will reject any charges above the amount (either individual or cumulative amount) that I set.
Once you've got your payment method setup (and maybe bought a block of minutes), you'll need to get at least one or two numbers. Each number is like a "line" that can be engaged simultaneously. If you have 3 numbers, you can initiate three simultaneous calls. If you have one, you can only make one call at any given moment. You have to wait for that call to end, before L.O.R.A. can make another call. Typically, it makes sense to have somewhere between 3 and 10 lines if your goal is to really disrupt an illegal scammer call-center, or up to maybe as many as 15 if your goal is to pretty much shut them down. Don't worry, each phone number (line) is only $1 per month.
4. To set up a number, click on the octothorpe on the left side of your Twilio console (as you see in the screenshot below), and then click Buy a Number. On the search criteria page, make sure that Voice is checked, then click search. You can also enter some digits or phrases you want the number to contain; for example, you might want to have your phone number(s) spell out the word "scam".
Choose your number from the list in the search results, and click "Buy" on the right. Careful: if toll-free numbers are listed, they're $2/mo instead of just $1. Still not a bad price, though.)
5. Once you've bought a number, you're ready to get started. Click on the control panel icon (the first one on the far top-left), to go to your Dashboard. Once there, you'll see your Account SID and Auth Token. You can click the 'eye' icon to display your auth token. Copy these numbers down someplace secure, you'll need to enter them into L.O.R.A. in a bit.
Uploading an MP3
L.O.R.A. allows you to enter text to be read aloud to whomever answers the call by a robo-voice using a text-to-speech engine. If you just want to use that feature, and not play custom .MP3 files down the line for the scammer to hear, then you can skip this section.
However, you may want to leave a more personal message for these grandmother-scamming motherfuckers. If that's the case, you can record yourself telling them exactly what you think of their actions, or indeed whatever else you'd like to record - such as a bull-horn.
Once you've recorded or downloaded a custom message as an .mp3, you'll need to upload it as an Asset in your Twilio account. To do so, simply follow the steps below:
1. On your Twilio console, you should see three icons on the far left side: A control panel, a phone icon, and an octothorpe. Below these, there should be a circle containing an ellipsis (three dots). Click on the ellipsis.
2. In the menu that slides in from the left, under Developer Tools, click on Runtime (or click here).
4. After uploading your chosen file, you should see it in the list of assets, and to its' right you should see an URL. Grab that URL, as you'll need it for configuring L.O.R.A.
Setting up L.O.R.A.
//todo: L.O.R.A. Screenshots coming soon.
Once you've performed the steps above, configuring L.O.R.A. is a snap. Simply launch the app by opening the stand-alone LORA.exe file (no installation necessary), and then follow the steps below.
1. In the Target box at the top of the interface, enter the phone number for the scammers. It's best if this is a number which gets straight to a person, like most of the IRS or malware scammers are set up. However, we go over how to get to a person behind an IVR in the Troubleshooting section below.
2. If you'd like to have LORA dial the number repeatedly, check the Repeat dial check-box at the top of the control panel on the left of the interface, then enter how many times you'd like to have it repeat the call. To continue calling forever (as long as the app is open), enter the number 0 here. Finally, set the frequency of dialing; for example, if you want it to redial every 10 seconds, enter the number 10 here.
Note that if you only have 2 numbers (lines) available on your Twilio account, LORA will stop after there are two engaged lines, but as soon as one becomes free, it'll use that one to dial out again.
3a. If you uploaded an .MP3 file in the section above, click the .mp3 radio-button, and enter the URL you grabbed for that file after uploading it on the Assets page on your Twilio account.
3b. If you did not upload an .MP3 file, or if you'd like to use TTS (text-to-speech) instead, click the Text-to-speech radio-button, and enter some words into the Audio to play box. You can disable the Repeat dial setting and have LORA call your own phone number to hear how it'll sound. The TTS processor will pause on commas and periods, raise inflection on question marks, and so on; so punctuate your sentence the way you want it to be said.
4. In the SIP Credentials section at the bottom-left of the LORA interface, enter the Account SID and Auth Token from your Twilio account that we found in step 5 of the Setting up Twilio section above. Once you've entered those values, click Save.
5. Finally, once you're ready to let 'em have it, click on the Suppressing fire! button in the middle-ish of the LORA interface, and watch the event log for updates on how your calls are going!
This section under construction. Please check back in a couple of days.
//todo: Write a thing about how to simulate DTMF tones in TTS input, as well as links to MP3s of DTMF tones for inclusion in messages.