I have always thought that for cold calling scams to be successful the intended victim would have to pick up the phone. Apparently it isn’t so, and the scam has evolved to make money even when no one answers.
The way it works is that “robocallers” will purchase phone numbers and hire call centers to make as many calls as possible on a daily basis. When the recipient’s caller ID picks up the phone number the customer’s service provider will pay a small fee to the entity holding the Caller ID database. And per an article in the WSJ, some of this makes it way back to the robocaller:
“The recipient’s carrier pays a small fee for that information request when it delivers a name, typically between $0.0025 and $0.005, according to people who operate the databases. Some databases then pass a portion of that micropayment back to the company that controls the calling phone number, the company completing the call or their client.”
An infographic in the article suggests that $0.00096 might get paid to the robocaller for each call made, which works out to $96 per 100,000 calls.