Teen crisis hotline jammed with spammers

MINNEAPOLIS, Mn. (CNN) – In Minneapolis, a teen crisis hotline has come under attack by scammers looking for money. The organization says it all started when they refused to meet their demands.

“We’re unable to call out, unable to get calls coming in because the line is constantly busy,” said director Dan Pfarr.

The director of BridgeTeenCrisis center says someone is calling over and over from all different numbers, clogging the lines and asking for money.

“They say that for 525 dollars they’ll release, they’ll stop calling you.” They say that person didn’t budge when they told them they’re a crisis line.

After all, they advertise their accessibility. “We never close, we’re always open. We always pick up the phone.”

The line typically takes calls from teenagers who are contemplating suicide or being abused.

“They could have one number, or one moment to call and it would be this crisis line, and at this point, what they’ll get is a busy signal,” Pfarr said.

We talked with a cyber-security consultant who says this sounds like tdos (telephony denial of service).

Scammers use computers to make repeated calls.  In fact nakedsecurity.Com reports that tdos scammers are targeting emergency call centers in the U.S. and demanding money. They say the FBI is aware.

At the bridge they’re waiting for help from someone, but there aren’t many minutes to spare.

The bridge for youth has changed its number, but schools, counselors, police, and others still have the old number. They say they are looking for help regain control of the old number.

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